NORMAN, Okla. -- University of Oklahoma head men's basketball coach Lon Kruger announced the addition of University of Houston transfer TaShawn Thomas (first name pronounced TAY-shawn) to the OU roster on Tuesday. Thomas, the Cougars' leading scorer and rebounder last season, signed a financial aid agreement and will have one season of eligibility left at OU.
The NCAA requires Division I transfers sit out a year before competing at their new institution. However, Oklahoma will file an appeal in an attempt to make Thomas eligible for the 2014-15 season.
"We're just delighted to add a person and player of TaShawn's caliber. He's terrific on the court, he's terrific off the court."
A 6-8, 240-pound forward from Killeen, Texas, Thomas earned second-team All-American Athletic Conference honors during the 2013-14 season when he averaged team highs of 15.4 points and 8.1 rebounds in 31.6 minutes a contest. He also led the team with his .591 field goal percentage and his 2.7 blocked shots per game. He was a first-team All-Conference USA selection as a sophomore, averaging 16.9 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 blocks per outing while shooting .552 from the floor. He was also named to the Conference USA All-Defensive Team that season.
A starter in all 96 career games at Houston, Thomas averaged double figures in scoring all three seasons. He is one of only the seven players in UH history to record at least 1,300 points and 800 rebounds.
"We're just delighted to add a person and player of TaShawn's caliber," said Kruger. "He's terrific on the court, he's terrific off the court. Everyone who we talked with at the University of Houston had nothing but great things to say. We're just really looking forward to his contributions to our program and university.
"With the graduation of Cameron Clark and Tyler Neal on the inside, the timing of this addition is perfect. Now the next step is to address the waiver. Our folks will work on the presentation of the waiver immediately and we'll see how that goes."
Thomas posted three-year averages of 14.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.2 blocks at Houston while shooting .571 from the field and .599 from the free throw line. He posted single-game career highs of 31 points, 20 rebounds, seven assists, six steals and seven blocks (three times). He also registered a double-double in 35 percent of his games (34 of 96).
"When I got my release, OU was one of the first schools to contact me and show interest," said Thomas, who also visited Miami (Fla.) after deciding to transfer. "That caught my attention. When I got to Norman, I just fell in love with the campus. It's beautiful.
"And the coaching staff is A-1," Thomas continued. "I have a really good relationship with Coach Kruger and (Assistant) Coach (Lew) Hill. Everyone who met with me had a smiling face."
Thomas indicated the strength of OU's roster also played a big role in his decision to pick the Sooners.
"I've got one year to play," said Thomas, "so I wanted to go to a program that's already good, a place I could help be even better. If I went somewhere else, I might be taking a risk as to how good they would be. With OU, they were going to be good whether I chose them or not. But with that said, I feel like I can be a big help to the team."
A Killeen High School graduate, Thomas averaged 21.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 4.0 blocks per game as a senior in 2010-11 while being named all-area and the District 8-4A Most Valuable Player. He helped lead the school to district championships as a junior and senior.
Thomas joins an Oklahoma squad that finished 23-10 in 2013-14 and made its second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Sooners, who finished second in the Big 12 Conference, return 68 percent of their scoring, 70 percent of their rebounds and 73 percent of their assists next season.