B-ball recruit scores 51 in playoff game

By Jeff Kirik

Donnell Thomas, who signed a National Letter of Intent with NIU Nov. 12, made history Tuesday by scoring 51 points in Robeson High School’s 127-60 playoff win over Kelly.

Thomas, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound forward, converted 25 field goals and one free throw to establish a new single-game point standard at Robeson. NIU assistant coach Robert Collins, who used to be the head coach at Robeson and helped recruit Thomas, witnessed the game.

“It was amazing,” Collins said. “He hit about every type of shot a player could hit. He hit baseline jumpers, left-handed jump hooks, right-handed jump hooks and about five slam dunks. He had a lot of power moves inside, too.

“It was the type of game that wasn’t too competitive, but he was hot. They kept him in to get the record, but he didn’t even play three-fourths of the game. I don’t know the official statistics but I can’t remember him missing three shots.”

Collins was the Robeson coach when Charles Smith hit for 48 points against the same Kelly High School in 1982. Collins said he knew Thomas had a shot at the school record after he tallied 24 points in the first quarter.

Thomas, who was named first team All-Public League by the Chicago Sun-Times, has been considered mostly a rebounder, but Collins said Thomas has worked to become a more complete player.

“He’s worked to become a better perimeter player and has developed a jump hook which will make him tough to defend when he’s here (at NIU) next year.”