Lake Forest’s Asa Thomas commits to Clemson

Asa Thomas, one of the state’s top prospects in the Class of 2023, is headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

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Lake Forest’s Asa Thomas (5) prepares to shoot against Oak Park.

Lake Forest’s Asa Thomas (5) prepares to shoot against Oak Park.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Asa Thomas has been one of the most lethal perimeter shooters in the state since he started at Lake Forest three years ago.

Clemson needs perimeter shooting.

Thomas, one of the state’s top prospects in the Class of 2023, is headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

No recruitment is as simple as that, but the Lake Forest senior has committed to Clemson and coach Brad Brownell, who is in his 13th season with the Tigers.

Thomas, who has been a staple with the Illinois Wolves program on the Under Armour circuit throughout his high school career, saw Clemson’s need and found what he says is an “ideal fit” for what he was looking for in a college basketball program.

“I am super thrilled,” Thomas said. “What Clemson has to offer and the chance to play in the ACC, one of the best conferences in college basketball, is going to be an exciting experience for me and my family. I want to play big-time basketball and that’s the ACC.”

Thomas says the fit begins with the coaching staff, which includes assistant coach Billy Donlon. The former Glenbrook North star in the 1990s –– and former head coach at both Wright State and UMKC –– has obvious ties to the Chicago area.

“Coach Brownell and the staff are just awesome,” Thomas said. “The staff and school are a great fit for me. Plus, with coach Donlon having gone to GBN, there was an obvious connection there as well.”

Throughout the recruiting process, Thomas said he saw the importance of a program and coaching staff being all in. He felt that from Clemson.

“It comes down to who wants you and who prioritizes you,” said Thomas, who visited the campus in early June. “Clemson showed that to me from the start. My position is opening up there. They really pointed out how they need shooting and how I can step in and fill that role.”

Thomas, who averaged 17.4 points as a junior, is 6-6 and has a coveted shooting stroke on the perimeter.

“He brings a high-level IQ and he’s skilled,” Lake Forest coach Phil LaScala said. “He can pass, shoot and dribble. And he’s an unbelievable teammate.”

Thomas has a terrific release, the ball comes off his hand cleanly and he boasts a range that extends to 24 feet. Plus, he hits shots off movement regularly and quickly gets into his shot mechanics.

“I am looking forward to playing against and competing against the top players in the country,” Thomas said.

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