ATLANTA – Georgia State head coach Rob Lanier announced Friday the signing of two big men to the Panther roster with the addition of Jalen Thomas and Joe Jones III.
The duo becomes the first freshmen signees for Lanier since becoming the head coach in April.
Thomas, from Detroit, Mich., played for the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, while Jones hails from Buffalo, N.Y., and played last season at Orangeville Prep in Ontario, Canada.
“Our staff really likes what Jalen and Joe will be able to bring to our program,” Lanier said. “They are both quality big men who are really good defenders and will be able to fit in immediately to the style of basketball we want to play.”
Thomas was a four-year letter winner and two-year starter at U of D Jesuit High School. The 6-10 forward was was ranked as high as the No. 2 prospect in Michigan, No. 37 center in the country and among the top 250 players per 247Sports. Per the national rankings, he is the second-highest ranked player to ever sign with Georgia State.
He led University of Detroit Jesuit High School to a 95-10 record including four Catholic High School League (CHSL) Central Division titles, four CHSL Tournament Championships, four Operation Friendship (CHSL vs. Detroit Public League) titles, four MHSAA District titles, and four MHSAA Regional titles. Thomas was also a part of two trips to the MHSAA Final Four, an MHSAA State Runner-Up finish (2019) and the MHSAA State Championship in 2016.
Thomas was named to the All-Catholic League Team, All-Detroit by the Detroit News, and the Detroit Free Press. He was also an All-State selection in both 2018 and 2019. As a senior, Thomas helped guide the Cubs to a 25-3 record by averaging 13.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per game. He led the team shooting 63.0 percent from the field and 81.0 percent from the free throw line.
“Jalen is a skilled forward who is long and athletic,” Lanier said. “He has the ability to make face-up jump shots and will be a defensive presence in the lane. He has really good timing with blocking shots and rebounding on both ends of the court. As good as his defense is, we know that his offensive abilities will flourish in our system.”
Jones is a 6-10 center who also earned a 3-star ranking from 247Sports. He was ranked as high as the No. 5 prospect in New York and among the top 400 players in the country by 247Sports. He was also ranked No. 27 in the Class of 2019 by North Pool Hoops.
He earned 2019 BioSteel All-Canadian honors and National Prep School Invitational All-Tournament Team recognition at the No. 1 prep tournament in the country. Jones also garnered the Orangeville Prep Most Improved Player award.
Jones started every game for Orangeville Prep as the squad went 18-1 and finished first in league play. He led Orangeville to the No. 1 ranking in Canada while averaging 11.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game.
Prior to his arrival at Orangeville Prep, he averaged 15 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game at The Park School in Buffalo while helping the program to a 17-6 record.
Jones is the younger brother of former No. 1 2007 NBA Draft pick Greg Oden who was selected by the Portland Trailblazers.
“Joe is a big powerful player who has the ability to affect the game on both ends of the court,” Lanier said. “He is a physical presence that loves to play tough, hard-nosed basketball. He is really good at rebounding, has soft hands and runs the floor extremely well. Joe has the ability to score in and around the paint and will give our team the toughness that is needed for the way we want to play.
Summer practice for the Panthers begins next week.