That Shaq Thomas is facing enormous expectations next year is not exactly a secret. The subject has been a long running source of material for this blog. But it's not just the locals who are calling it to attention, the national press is already starting to get in on the act as well. This is from CBS sports.
Lanky wing is the Bearcats' top returning scorer (6.7 points) from last year's team that won 27 games and reached the NCAA Tournament. Mick Cronin has led Cincinnati to 101 victories and four straight appearances in the field of 68 over the past four seasons, but if the Bearcats are to return to the sport's most hallowed showcase in 2015 it will be partially because Thomas becomes more of an alpha dog as a junior. Bouncy, agile and active, the New Jersey native has all the tools to blossom into a reliable scorer but needs to become more assertive on a daily basis. Thomas only reached double figures in one of Cincinnati's final 12 games last season.
The good news is that the message is sinking in with Thomas. He, along with Jermaine Sanders, have become the leaders on this team. They are the guys who are organizing and controlling the off season runs and workouts, they are the ones who are showing leadership vocally and in more subtle ways. All of which is great, but the best news of all is that in those sessions Shaq Thomas just stays in attack mode nonstop, and that is exactly what the Bearcats are going to need come fall.