On the anniversary of a memorable 1987 Final Four win over UNLV, the Indiana University men’s basketball family has lost one of its champions that played in that game.
Daryl Thomas passed away this morning due to an apparent heart attack. Thomas was 52 years old. A Chicago native, he was coaching high school basketball at Montini Catholic in Lombard, Illinois.
The Indiana University men’s basketball program tweeted out this message as a tribute to Thomas:
The Indiana men's basketball family is devastated to learn of the passing of 1987 National Champion Daryl Thomas. Our prayers go out to his family, friends, teammates and coaches and all others who he had an impact on throughout his life. pic.twitter.com/kVvZeDLGLJ
— Indiana Basketball (@IndianaMBB) March 28, 2018
Thomas was key player on the IU 1987 National Championship team. In what was his senior year with the Hoosiers, he averaged 15.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, earning All-Big Ten honors. Perhaps overshadowed by a big game from Steve Alford, and Keith Smart’s legendary last second shot, Thomas scored 20 points in the 1987 title game win over Syracuse.
As you can see in this video of Smart’s final shot, Thomas had the assist on the play, and he showed a great deal of composure in the waning seconds to calmly deliver the ball and set the screen for the national championship game winner.
Thomas was a 1,000 point scorer at Indiana. For his career he finished with 1,095 points, good for 47th all-time in program history. For his career he shot 54.1% from the field which stands as the 9th best all-time.
Former IU head coach Bob Knight released this statement on his former player:
“Ever since that 1987 championship game, I’ve always called that the greatest single play I ever had a kid make: giving up the ball and setting the screen that got the man open for the shot that won a national championship.”
“That was Daryl — absolutely unselfish.”
“His attitude and his play on the court are what I always remember about him — that and how really great a kid he was. He had wonderful parents. I just feel sick about hearing this and very bad for his family, his team and everyone around him.”
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