The D.C.-Maryland-Virginia recruiting pipeline is continuing under Kyle Neptune’s watch, as he and the Wildcats stay hot on the recruiting trail.
They secured their second commitment in one week, as three-star class of 2024 forward Malcolm Thomas announced his decision to go to Villanova on Thursday afternoon.
“Of course, I definitely was aware,” said Thomas, when asked about Villanova’s history and run of success with DMV-area players. “My guy Justin (Moore) is up there right right now. His little brother, Jason, is one of my closest friends, so honestly, it was like family already going up there. When I went on a visit, having somebody that I knew up there already just made it even more special.”
“When I was in middle school, watching him and other guys play was really what led me to DeMatha Catholic. You know, there’s just something about that water in the DMV area,” Thomas added, laughing.
He is the son of Etan Thomas, who was a two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year at Syracuse and NBA player for 10 years, but he hopes to carve out his own identity.
Thomas aims to be one of the next Villanova standouts from the DMV, and keep that strong tradition going.
He picked the Wildcats out of his final five, which also included California, Florida State, Vanderbilt and Xavier.
While having Moore there helped him feel at home, his bond with the coaching staff was one of the biggest reasons behind his decision.
“I’ve built an amazing relationship with them, and I see myself fitting perfectly in Coach Neptune’s scheme,” Thomas said. “I see myself being able to jump right in and be a piece. That’s really what it was, going on my official visit, seeing the culture of Villanova and the family aspect, how close all the guys were with coach.
“When I asked Coach Neptune, just in conversation, if he had any kids, he said, ‘I got a team.’ You know what I mean? That really solidified the family aspect, how strong the value he puts on family. That stood out to me more than anything on the basketball side.”
Thomas had visited Villanova in mid-September. The Wildcats had offered him back in June, after a solid junior season at DeMatha Catholic — the same high school that Justin Moore attended. Thomas averaged 11.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game and appeared in 33 games for an average of 19.2 minutes per contest.
He is a 6-foot-8, 195-pound forward. 247 sports currently has him rated as a three-star prospect in the class of 2024.
“I’m tenacious, I would say I’m a hard worker,” Thomas said, describing his game. “You’re never gonna find anybody that’s gonna outwork me. I love attacking the basket, I feel that’s my biggest strength — drive it into the hole, try to dunk on anybody. Honestly, I’ve a much improved shooter than in the past — outside, mid-range is solid — just always improving, that’s my game.”
Aside from gearing up for his upcoming senior season at DeMatha Catholic, he’s also busy trying to level up his play for the next level.
“Right now, I’m working on fine tuning my shot the most, being more of a consistent outside shooter,” he said. “That’s my main point of emphasis right now, locking that in and then translating it to the college game.”
Thomas joins four-star prospect Matt Hodge, who committed to Villanova last week as the Wildcats’ first class of 2024 commit.
The ‘Cats aren’t just quite done with recruiting yet. They’re in the mix for four-star 2024 forward Josiah Moseley (Round Rock, Texas/Stony Point), who is set to announce his decision on Sunday. Although he hasn’t named a final list, he visited Villanova a couple of weeks ago.
As for Thomas, while he can’t wait to be a Wildcat, he has a message to Villanova fans in the meantime.
“You can expect somebody that’s gonna work harder than everybody else on the court, and that’s going to translate off the court,” Thomas said. “I just want everybody to know that there’s not going to be a time that you’ll ever have to worry about me doing what I need to do in handling my business on and off the court, because that’s what I hold myself to.
“I’m looking forward to being a member of the family, improving, being the best basketball player I could be. I’m looking forward to winning with Coach Neptune, and I’m looking forward to it all.”