Departing Hoops Coach Bringing South Florida Talent to New Job

We reported a few weeks ago that Deon Thomas, the University of Illinois basketball program's all-time leading scorer who settled briefly in Pembroke Pines, was taking a job as the coach of a community college near St. Louis. And now Thomas tells Juice that he's taking some of the region's prep basketball talent with him: Brison Smith and Rico Pierre-Villus, both stars on the Santaluces High School Chiefs team in Lantana.

Thomas dropped us an email on his way out of town, describing the challenge that awaits him at Lewis and Clark Community College, and what aspect of the job he's most excited about:

I'm looking forward to the whole experience. I'm so thankful that the great people at Lewis and Clark have given me this opportunity. But, coaching my first college game has to be the ultimate right now. Then my national championship is next. LOL
But opposing coaches would do well to take that facetious threat seriously. Thomas is going to make a whale of a coach, and as a guy who never let adversity break his spirit, he'll be a fine example to the two Chiefs he's bringing north.

So, St. Louis, a question: Considering we're sending you some promising players and a dynamic young coach, can you forgive us for also sending you Christopher Maury?

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Thomas Francis