VU Men’s Basketball opens 2023 recruiting class with Gerard Thomas


VINCENNES, Ind. – The Vincennes University men’s basketball team is looking to reload after an impressive run to the Elite Eight of the NJCAA National Tournament in 2023.

VU wasted little time putting together the 2023 recruiting class, picking up their first signee of the summer in Henderson County point guard Gerard Thomas.

“I am excited to work with Coach Franklin and take my game to the next level,” Thomas said. “I am ready to get to work and add another National Championship banner at VU. When I met with Coach Davis and toured the campus, I knew Vincennes was where I wanted to be.”

Thomas is a six-foot-two point guard who averaged 18.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game last season for the Colonels.

Thomas helped guide Henderson County to a 22-9 record last season under Head Coach Tyler Smithhart and helped the Colonels reach the Semifinals of the Region Two Tournament after leading HCHS to a District 6 Championship.

Thomas finished his high school career as the nine All-Time leading scorer in Henderson County school history and was named the Region Two Player of the Year in Kentucky.

Thomas was also a candidate for the Mr. Basketball honor in Kentucky and was named Third-Team All-State by the Herald-Leader newspaper in Kentucky.

“I came to a game day visit earlier this year and went into the locker room after the game,” Thomas added. “The team welcomed me like it was my home and then when I visited and we played, I felt like it was the right fit. The team was very welcoming and right after my visit I told Coach Franklin this is where I want to be.”

When asked what he hopes to bring to the Trailblazers next season, Thomas said, “A great teammate that wants to win.”

As for what the biggest part of his game he is most excited to show the VU fans next season, Thomas added, “my shot making ability”.

“We’ve looked at Gerard all year,” VU Hall of Fame Head Coach Todd Franklin said. “He’s one that we’ve known about and have paid attention to for quite a while. He came up to a couple of games and watched us during the season and we had him up on a visit this week to just confirm what we thought and he is what he is.”

“He is a strong, six-one and a half, 218 pound point guard,” Franklin added. “He is similar in some ways to Devin Foster, but right-handed. He probably doesn’t shoot it quite as well as Devin did but may be a little better at going both ways to the basket. He brings physicality to the position and we are into physicality here and I think that this team next year is going to be very much into physicality with the returners that we have. He’s really good playing downhill and has good vision. He’s very long, like Devin, across the shoulders and his arms. He’s a long six-one and that plays into the things he does. It helps him finish using his body at the basket. He gets a lot of deflections and steals with his quick hands.”

“Teams will be playing against some grown men next year on our squad and he fits right in,” Franklin said. “He really wanted to be here. We were his choice, which is very important to us that he wanted to be here over his other options. He’ll be here over the summer, so he will be able to jump right in and I think he has a real chance to help us. I think he has a chance to be able to play right away because physically, he’s ready and I think his game and the way he plays fits into the way that we play. I think as long as he comes in and comes to work from day one here in the summer, I think he’ll be a guy that can help us next year.”

Thomas is joining a Vincennes University team that is coming off a spectacular bounce back season, where the Trailblazers finished with a record of 30-6 and earned a spot in the NJCAA National Quarterfinals in Hutchinson.

The Blazers will look to fill spots left behind by departing sophomores Tasos Cook, Trenton Johnson, Devawn White, Shilo Jackson and Caleb Johnson.

“We are putting together, what I think, is a traditional for us,” Franklin said. “We are strong, physical, tough and we need the point guard position to reflect the same thing and I think Gerard is a step in that direction along with the returners that we have coming back as well as some other guys that we are still looking at in recruiting.”

“The biggest thing for us right now in recruiting is that we want guys that fit what we are doing,” Franklin added. “We’ve got to get point guards, we’ve got to get two guards, we’ve got to get some more centers. Probably another wing-type player, guys that are going to make an impact. We’ve got to get point guards and two guards that can come in and play and we’ve got to get a five that can come in and play, as well as another guy at the three-four position that is in the rotation, kind of like a Kris King or a Caleb Johnson type of player last year.”

“We’ve got Michael Osei-Bonsu, Karyiek Dixon and Victor Lado back,” Franklin said. “Those are three strong, built guys. I think you are going to see Victor expanding his game next year. He can really shoot the ball at the top of the key and we are going to work at that really hard this summer. We are going to work with Karyiek and Michael about putting the ball on the floor more and not only beating you, but then posting up after the drive. Things that Villanova has done over the years.”

“Kris King will, in theory, play more as a three next season with Caleb gone,” Franklin added. “But he also has that ability to switch back and forth like those other guys in the post. Ryan Oliver will be back next year with another year of being better and stronger at the two. Kent King is also back for next year. We think that he really has the potential and I think an offseason will really help him after his first season here.”

“We all know that we have to get better at shooting the ball this offseason and the guys will work hard at it,” Franklin said. “We would also like to bring some guys in that could shoot it a little better too. But the bottom line is, we have to guard you, we’ve got to take good shots and we’ve got to get on the glass. That has been our recipe for being extremely successful over the years and we were again successful last year. Now we’ve got something that we haven’t had since before COVID, we’ve got a bunch of returners. A solid core of returners that will be better next year. How much better is the question, but they will be better.”

“They want to be here and they want to get it done and they are excited about it,” Franklin added. “They are already working on it. They like each other and everybody that we bring in here in recruiting is going to be somebody we think fits into that. We think we’ve done that with Gerard and we will see in time when they are here. But everybody that we sign, they have to be somebody that fits into what we have. Because we are back to having that thing where it flips over and we know our identity and we think the guys coming back fit our identity and everybody that we sign, regardless of position, is going to be somebody we think fits in with that identity. Because I think we are going to be really hard to beat, as long as we stay true to that.”

The Vincennes University Athletic Department would like to welcome Gerard Thomas to the 2023 recruiting class and wishes him well as he finishes his senior year of high school.