NC State announced Friday that rising junior forward Johnny Thomas will be graduating this summer and plans to leave NC State's basketball team and explore other options at that point.
"My decision of moving on is based on academics," Thomas told The Wolfpacker in an exclusive interview. "Before I even came to college, coming from Greensboro Day everything was based off me doing well in school, which I have. I am graduating in three years.
"Right now my goal is to go to grad school and pursue a master's in physical education, and State doesn't offer physical education. I want to get to a university that actually does offer that, and I'm not going to talk to universities no matter how good they are and what they offer unless they have my master's."
The Morehead City, N.C., native is the third Wolfpacker to announce transfer intentions this summer. Rising junior guard Julius Mays is leaving for Wright State while rising sophomore forward Josh Davis is headed to Tulane.
Thomas averaged 1.6 points in his two years at NC State. He redshirted his freshman year after undergoing season-ending knee surgery prior to the start of the 2007-08 season. He played in 14 games as a rookie, averaging 2.1 points and 2.1 rebounds. Last year he saw action in just 11 contests, contributing 0.8 points and 1.1 boards.
"I enjoyed playing at State," Thomas insisted. "Every opportunity I stepped on the court I feel like I did everything I had to do to prove to people I should be on the court. I enjoyed everything that Coach [Sidney] Lowe, Coach [Pete Strickland] and Coach [Monte] Towe, Coach [Larry] Harris, all the coaches, that they offered me. They helped me develop into a totally different athlete as well as a student."
Thomas has also been a strong student at NC State. He was named to the 2008 ACC Honor Roll and 2009 All-ACC Academic Team. He is set up to take the GRE shortly. He said he made the decision to leave shortly after the spring semester ended in May.
"When I look to see if State had my master's, they didn't have it," Thomas noted. "I am getting my bachelor's in sports management. At this point, I just want to pursue what I wanted to pursue as far as academic career, but I love every aspect of NC State. I always will be an alum of NC State. I'll come to the games. I totally support the staff, and I support the team."
Thomas added that he has not had a chance to speak with other colleges and probably will not do so until a few more weeks. His primary focus at the moment is finishing up to graduate.
The high-flying 6-foot-6, 208-pounder was considered an energetic player off the bench. He had been expected to provide depth behind wings Lorenzo Brown, C.J. Williams and Scott Wood on next year's team. Brown is an incoming freshman, while Williams and Wood are rising junior and sophomore respectively. Incoming recruit C.J. Leslie is also capable of playing minutes at small forward.
NC State has 10 scholarship players now for the upcoming season, including seniors Javier Gonzalez, a point guard, and Tracy Smith, a low-post player. That will give State five scholarships to use in the 2011 recruiting class should the Pack decide not to add a late addition this year.
The Pack thus far has one pledge from the rising senior high school class, and that is center Joseph Uchebo, who will be playing at Word of God Academy in Raleigh, N.C., next season.