Cam Thomas delivered on what his coach Will Wade said for months prior to the 2020 season. He scored and then he scored some more en route to leading the SEC in points during his first and only season in Baton Rouge.
On Thursday, Thomas joined teammates Javonte Smart, Trendon Watford and Darius Days in declaring for the 2021 NBA Draft. It was known really since the start of his freshman season that Thomas would be a one and done prospect for the Tigers.
With all of the consistency Wade has brought to the program over the last five years, forward Naz Reid was his only one and done and he wound up falling out of the 2019 draft completely. If Wade wanted to continue to lure top end high school products to Baton Rouge, he knew he'd need to start developing those five-star prospects into first round picks.
After two seasons at LSU, Watford is in the conversation for a second round selection but Thomas is different. Not only is the super scorer a virtual first round lock, he has the chance to maybe even maneuver his way into the lottery, or first 14 picks.
In Sports Illustrated's first mock draft since the 2020-21 season came to a close, Thomas went No. 16 overall.
Aesthetically, Thomas’s shoot-first, shoot-second approach to basketball isn’t for everyone. But at some point he has to get credit for a prolific freshman year, in which he racked up points, stretched defenses and got to the foul line at an incredible rate. Thomas isn’t going to be much of a playmaker or defender in the pros, but it’s easy to see a world where his efficiency spikes in a lower-volume role, and makes him the type of scorer who can help anchor bench-heavy lineups. At some point, Thomas is going to have to learn to share the ball more. But his many buckets may translate well enough that he can succeed with some reasonable changes to his tendencies.
Thomas averaged 23 points a game, shooting 40% from the field and 32% from three. He was very much the definition of a streaky shooter and will have to add some more elements to his game at the next level but there is no doubt he's one of the more talented offensive prospects in this class.