May 1, 2013

Golden Eagle men's basketball team announces first spring signee


COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — After adding two solid future contributors to the Golden Eagle program in the late fall, the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team has not let up, announcing its first spring signing in the form of Prime Prep Academy guard Shirmane Thomas.

The 6-2, 175-pound guard from Dallas Texas, will look to make an immediate impact on the court for the Golden Eagles after choosing Tech over other offering programs including Wichita State, Creighton, Nebraska, North Texas, Nevada, Santa Clara, and Tulsa.

"Signing with Tennessee Tech means a lot to me," remarked Thomas. "I've been working hard my entire high school career to have an opportunity to come in and make an impact at a DI university. I feel that is a great accomplishment and opportunity for me."

Thomas noted that his ability to connect right off the bat with the Tech coaching staff played a large role in his decision. He also was immediately impressed with the city of Cookeville and how he felt he could fit in.

"I felt that Tech was more family oriented. I felt that they could get me to the next level that I want to be at. I really felt at home in the city of Cookeville and feel that there aren't a lot of distractions there so I can keep focused and keep my head on straight."

Meeting and gelling with his future Golden Eagle teammates was also a plus.

"The guys gave me a warm welcome when I visited. I can see that they like to work hard. I feel that together, we can make some noise in the OVC if everyone digs in and we all dedicate ourselves to doing well next year."

Rated as a three-star prospect by ESPN, Thomas is well regarded because of his tenacity on the court and ability to defend against the nation's best ball handlers.

"Shirmane is a great kid that loves to play the game," said Thomas' high school coach Ray Forsett. "He's tough, gritty, and energetic. He's going to bring a lot of toughness to the team.

"Shirmane's the type of kid coaches love to coach. He'll get on the floor and go after loose balls. He's one of the best defenders in the country. He'll get after you and really make you uncomfortable. He can get to the cup and finish well. He's a very strong kid and a well-rounded player."

"Off the court, he's a great young man that just loves to have fun and loves to laugh. He genuinely loves to play the game and loves his family."

The Golden Eagle coaching staff was quite enthusiastic when asked about what Thomas can bring to the table.

"We're really excited about Shirmane and his ability to come in and be an immediate impact guy at Tennessee Tech," said Tech head coach Steve Payne. "He's played at the highest level of high school basketball that you can play at. The national schedule he has played while at Prime Prep has really prepared him well to step in right away and be that immediate impact guy that we are looking for. Just thinking about what he provides as far as toughness, quickness, and leadership; he will serve us very well in future. We are really excited about his role for us heading forward."

Payne was quick to add that Forsett played a huge role in the development of Thomas and is certain that that will be a difference maker when all is said and done.

"He played for Ray Forsett at Prime. Ray's a guy that we've had a relationship with and Jeremiah [Samarrippas] has had a relationship with. We feel that Ray's done an incredible job preparing Shirmane to play at the Division I level. We really feel that his guidance and preparation are what have helped Shirmane get to the level he's at coming in."