On the latest edition of the HoopsHype podcast, host Michael Scotto is joined by arguably the draft’s top scorer and a potential lottery pick, Cameron Thomas, out of LSU. The two discussed Thomas’ strengths and weaknesses, player comparisons, long-term career goals, and more.
For more interviews with players, coaches, and media members, be sure to like and subscribe to the HoopsHype podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and anywhere else you listen to podcasts. Listen to the podcast above or check out some snippets of the conversation in a transcribed version below.
:45 What’s something people don’t know about you?
Thomas: I love to learn. I like to watch documentaries and learn more about history, for example, 30 for 30 on ESPN. I love 30 for 30. I love to watch those all day and almost every day.
1:37 What do you like to do off the court for fun?
Thomas: Play video games off the court. I’m really laid back and goofy off the court. When I’m on the court, it’s all business. It’s like two totally different people.
2:17 Was there a moment where you realized you could be an NBA player?
Thomas: You’re always kind of striving for that, but you don’t really think of it like that because you’re always training and trying to become an NBA player, so you always think that you are an NBA player. It (a moment) never really went off. I just try to keep training and put myself in that position where I can become an NBA player.
2:50 Did you ever have a moment of doubt if you’d become an NBA player?
Thomas: No. I never had a moment of doubt. I always believed that I would be in the position I’m in right now. I never had a doubt about me not becoming an NBA player.
3:20 As a player, what’s been your favorite moment and the toughest moment you've endured in your young career?
Thomas: My favorite moment was probably at LSU with us playing in the NCAA Tournament in March Madness. You always watch it on TV, and you always want to play in March Madness. That was a dream come true. My toughest moment would probably be at the Geico Nationals when I was with Oak Hill. I missed a game-winning shot in the corner while I was there.
It always motivated me to keep working on my game because I want to be in that situation, and the next time I want to make the shot. It’s always fueled me to stay in the gym and keep working because you always want to make shots and be in that position for your teammates to trust in you.
5:15 You averaged 23 points as a freshman. As a scorer, how hard is it to get those points each night with the defense locking in on you?
Thomas: At first, it’s pretty straightforward because nobody has the film on you because I’m a freshman coming in. Then, it gets harder because teams have film on you, and they’re game-planning for you. It’s tough, but it’s still not that tough because I’m in the gym working, I watch film, and I look at certain ways to score on the defense and how to get easy points. It gets tougher when you get into conference play, but it’s still pretty manageable because I know how to attack the defense from watching film so much.
6:40 Did you have any favorite NBA teams you've watched and offenses you feel like you can thrive in immediately?
Thomas: I really feel like I can thrive in any offense. I don’t really have a favorite team to watch. I take that approach and ask a lot of questions and study film to put myself in the best position on the floor, so whatever situation I go to, I’ll be ready off the bat.
7:25 What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses you're working on?
Thomas: My biggest strength is probably my confidence and mindset. I’m a three-level scorer who can make plays for others, and I’m a solid on-ball defender. For my weaknesses, I try to put a lot of emphasis on strength, conditioning, nutrition, and learning how to be a professional. I want to continue to grow, and I can always get better and look forward to adding to my game. I wouldn’t really say weaknesses. It’s stuff I want to improve on and keep working on when I get there (NBA).
8:25 Do you see any past or present NBA player comparisons?
Thomas: I’d probably say the one player from the past is Kobe (Bryant) a little bit just from our mindset and the way we score. For players now, I compare myself to Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, and James Harden.
9:25 What are your long-term career goals?
Thomas: I want to win at all costs. I want to be known as a winner and be an NBA champion, whether it’s one, five, six, seven times. Hopefully, past my career, I want to be an NBA GM. That’s one of my aspirations.
11:40 What’s your sense of your draft range?
Thomas: Everybody wants to go in the lottery, but I want to go to a team that values me a lot and wants to invest in me for being the hard worker I am, the basketball junkie that I am, and as a person.
12:30 Why should an NBA team take you with their first-round pick?
Thomas: A team should take Cam Thomas because he’s the best scorer in the draft and is ready to come in and provide instant offense to any team. Confidence and ability to handle high-pressure situations because you’ve got to be able to live for the moment, being a student of the game, and also a winner. He loves to win, and he’s not going to settle for anything less. He’s going to bring a winning mentality to a team.
13:30 Individually, what are your goals for your career?
Thomas: Whatever comes my way, whether it’s being the scoring champ, league MVP, perennial All-Star, those goals that every kid has like being a Hall of Famer. I try to strive towards those, and hopefully, I can when I’m done playing.
15:20 What are you most excited about entering the NBA?
Thomas: Just being able to play in the NBA. You always look at it on TV and YouTube that I want to be able to be out there playing. I want to see myself out there playing along with the other great players in the league. I’m not really excited to go up against anybody. I’m excited to be in the NBA. It’s always been a dream of mine, and I want to live out my dream.
You can follow Michael Scotto on Twitter: @MikeAScotto