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Deshaun Thomas’ return makes Ohio St. Final Four contender

Apr 6, 2012, 4:50 PM EST

spt-120325-deshaun AP

Ohio State’s 2012-13 roster will include at least one All-America candidate after all.

Two days after sophomore center Jared Sullinger announced he’ll enter the NBA draft, forward Deshaun Thomas announced he’ll be back in Columbus for his junior season.

“We have a great team returning next season and I want to be a part of another championship run,” Thomas said in a release. “My family, my coaches and I looked at my future as a professional but I love being a Buckeye and want to continue my education and development as a player and as a person at Ohio State.

“If I do have an opportunity to play basketball professionally, I want to have an immediate impact,” Thomas said. “Working with my teammates and coaches at Ohio State will help me achieve my future goals.”

The 6-7 forward averaged 15.9 points and 5.4 rebounds his sophomore season, shooting 52 percent from the field. That was a significant boost from his freshman season when he put up 7.5 points per game.

Without Sullinger or departing senior William Buford on the roster, expect Thomas to make a similar jump next season.

His NCAA tournament performance – 19.2 points per game during the Buckeyes’ Final Four run – led all players and showcased his ability to find his shot at almost any time. His 3-point shooting still needs a little work (34.5 percent), but that’s about the only thing he can’t do well offensively.

With Thomas and point guard Aaron Craft, the Buckeyes should contend for the Big Ten title again and possibly make a run at another Final Four.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

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