June 16, 2003
Point guard Chris Thomas (Indianapolis, Ind.) announced today that he has withdrawn his name from the 2003 National Basketball Association early entry draft list and will return to the University of Notre Dame for his junior season.
Thomas was named the National Freshman of the Year by Basketball Times and Basketball News following the 2001-02 campaign and also was named the '02 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. He was Notre Dame's second leading scorer during the '02-'03 campaign with an 18.7 scoring average. For the second straight season, he led the Irish in assists with a 6.9 average and ranked eighth nationally in that category. Thomas is the only player in school history to dish off 200-plus assists in consecutive seasons (236 in '02-'03 and 252 in '01-'02). He became the 42nd player in Notre Dame history to score 1,000 and is just the seventh player in school history to reach the mark in only his second season.
A second-team all-BIG EAST honoree in '03, he was a finalist for the John R. Wooden, Naismith and USBWA/Oscar Robertson player-of-the-year awards. He scored 20-plus points 15 times and registered four double doubles during this past season as he helped Notre Dame to 24-10 record and its first Sweet 16 appearance since 1987. Thomas led the Irish in scoring in their three NCAA tournament contests with a 21.3 scoring average.
Thomas' 488 career assists ranks fifth all-time and he owns career marks in assist average (7.3) and free throw percentage (.879).
Mike Brey On Chris Thomas' Decision To Return To Notre Dame:
"I always felt that Chris Thomas made a great decision to enter his name in the draft and go though the process of working out for some NBA teams. Now that he has gone through the process, I believe that he has made a great decision to return to Notre Dame. I feel that his whole process has made him a better player and leader. I feel very strongly that when Chris' time comes, he is going to have a great 8-10 year career in the NBA."
On a personal note, I am thrilled that I am going to have the opportunity to coach this young man again. He has meant so much to our program over the past two years and I know he is as excited as I am to return for next year."
Chris Thomas On His Decision To Return To Notre Dame:
"I'm glad I went through this whole process. It was a great learning experience because I think it has made me a better player both physically and mentally. I'm very excited to be back on the Notre Dame campus and to be around my teammates and coaches. They have been very supportive during the last few weeks. I'm anxious to get started and am looking forward to the upcoming season."