Daryl Thomas was an American basketball player. He played four seasons at Indiana University and was the co-captain of the 1987 NCAA National Championship winning Indiana team. He was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in the 1987 NBA Draft and played 13 years of professional basketball in the UK, Poland, and the Dominican Republic. He later became a basketball coach and instructor.
Daryl Thomas Biography
- Name: Daryl Thomas
- Position: Power Forward/Center
- Nationality: USA
- Birthday: May 25, 1965
- Death: March 28, 2018 (age 52)
- Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
- High School: St. Joseph High School (Westchester, Illinois)
- Height: 6’7″ (2.01 m)
- Weight: 240 lb (109 kg)
- Seasons: 4 (1983-1984, 1984-1985, 1985-1986, 1986-1987)
- Jersey: #24
- NBA Draft: 1987 / Round 4 / #120 overall (drafted by the Sacramento Kings)
- Professional Career: Played in the CBA (Fargo-Moorhead; La Crosse) and internationally (in the UK, Poland, and the Dominican Republic)
- Coaching Career: Coach for Montini Catholic High School (Lombard, Illinois)
Daryl Thomas’s Seasons at Indiana University
22-9 (13-5 Big Ten)
🏅 NCAA Elite Eight
19-14 (7-11 Big Ten)
🥈 NIT Runner Up
21-8 (13-5 Big Ten)
🏅 NCAA First Round
30-4 (15-3 Big Ten)
🏆 NCAA Champions
Daryl Thomas’s Statistics at Indiana University
Daryl Thomas’s High School Career
Thomas was a star at St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois. This was the same high school that helped produce another Indiana great, Isaiah Thomas. In high school, Daryl Thomas learned from the famed coach Gene Pingatore.
As a senior, Thomas was a McDonald’s All-American and a Parade All-American.
Daryl Thomas’s Indiana University Career
Thomas arrived on campus in 1983, alongside fellow recruits Steve Alford and Tom Meier.
As a freshman, Thomas averaged 12 minutes per game and only attempted about two shots per game. He was largely a role player for the 22-win Indiana squad that eventually lost to Virginia in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
Thomas’s role began to increase the next season and he averaged 5.5 points per game. However, IU finished seventh in the Big Ten, unable to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Indiana, instead, played in the NIT and lost to UCLA in the championship game.
In 1985-1986, Thomas had a breakout season, averaging 14.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting a career-best 56.1% from the field. Indiana was a #3 seed the NCAA Tournament but lost in the first round to #14 Cleveland State.
As a senior, Thomas was named team co-captain and continued to impress on and off the court. He shot 53.8% from the field while attempting nearly 11 shots per game and averaged 15.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game.
IU was dominant that season, securing 30 victories and eventually winning the National Championship game in the NCAA Tournament over Syracuse. In the championship, Thomas scored 20 points and made the famous pass to Keith Smart for the game-winning three-point shot. Bobby Knight would later say that Thomas’s recognition that Smart had a better shot and the decision to pass to him “the greatest single play I ever had a kid make.”
Thomas was loved by teammates for his kind personality and infectious smile.
Daryl Thomas’s Professional and Coaching Career
Thomas was selected as the #120 pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 1987 NBA Draft but was unable to make the team. Thomas went on to play professionally in the United Kingdom, Poland, and the Dominican Republic.
After his playing career, Thomas later became the head coach at Montini High School. He also was an instructor at the Chicago Bulls/Sox Academy.
Thomas died of a heart attack on March 28, 2018.
Check out the rich history of Indiana Hoosiers basketball!
Every week, we are publishing new articles on former and current Indiana University basketball legends, historical figures, and other IU history. Our goal is to capture the history of the Hoosiers all in one place. Click here to see our current collection of articles on Indiana basketball tradition.
Have a favorite Indiana Hoosier basketball player, coach, or event?
Help grow the Hoosier basketball history books by being a contributor to one of our IU athletics history pages! IndianaHQ is always looking for writers of all ages and experience levels. If you think you have what it takes, drop us an email here or send us a tweet!
Contributor: Mike Pudlow