When CU Buffs basketballer Dustin Thomas decided to transfer from Boulder to Arkansas earlier this year, there was no indication that he was leaving Colorado due to off-the-court issues.
Indeed, coaches made a point to praise him on the way out the door, suggesting that he'd handled the transition with maturity and class.
But the situation has changed — in a big way.
Before Thomas even got the chance to take the court in a regular season game as an Arkansas Razorback, he was arrested, along with two fellow teammates, on an accusation of passing counterfeit cash.
Thomas's CU Buffs bio remains online at this writing. It reads like so:
2014-15 (sophomore): Played in 32 games with 11 starts • Averaged 4.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.0 assist a game • Three double-digit games, including a career-high 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting in home win against USC (Jan. 4) • Also went 4-of-4 at the free throw line, 3-of-3 from the 3-point arc with a career-high three steals against the Trojans • Two-year high of seven rebounds and four assists in season opening win against Drexel (Nov. 14) • Came off the bench with 12 points in home season finale win against Arizona State (Mar. 1) and another 10 points in neutral court victory over Oregon State (Mar. 11) at Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas • In 11 starts, averaged 22.2 minutes a game with four games scoring 8 or more points • Seven games with 3+ rebounds • Career-high 30 minutes at UCLA (Jan. 31).
2013-14 (freshman): Played in all 35 games with six starts • Averaged 3.6 points, 2.5 rebounds • In his six starts, averaged 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game • Season-high 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting in home win against Jackson State (Nov. 16) • Season-high 27 minutes at UCLA (Feb. 13) • Eight games with seven or more points • Grabbed three or more rebounds in a game 17 times, including a personal-best six boards in home win against Arizona State (Feb. 19) • Also had a key five offensive rebounds in road win against Colorado State (Dec. 3) • Entered his freshman season as the second youngest player in the Pac-12 Conference.
Pleasant Grove HS: Helped the Hawks to 29-2 record, including 3A Region II District 15 regular season title • Pleasant Grove advanced to the regional semifinal • 2013 Rivals.com three-star: No. 28 small forward and No. 150 overall • 3A Region II District 15 MVP after averaging 20 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and five steals • Made an astounding 48 percent of his three-point attempts • Rivals.com ranked him as a three-star prospect • Ranked as the eighth-best senior prospect in Texas — among a loaded class in the Lone Star State that had three prospects sign with Kentucky.
Academics: Open Option major in CU’s College of Arts and Sciences.
Personal: Born July 26, 1995 • Son of David and Shonda Thomas • Wore jersey number 13 in high school and was a member of the National Honors Society.
Thomas made some spectacular plays for the Buffs, including this one....
...but when he decided to leave the team this past March, coach Tad Boyle was understanding.
"I think he wants to play a little bit more on the perimeter than we were willing to play him," Boyle told the Boulder Daily Camera, adding, "He doesn't leave here with any ill will towards us, and we certainly have no ill will towards him. He feels like he's better suited to move on and we support him in that decision."
His reputation was further enhanced by practicing with the Buffs and sitting on the bench, albeit in street clothes, during the CBI tournament in March.
BuffZone.com positively contrasted with these actions of Askia Booker, a senior who also announced he was leaving the program.
Booker didn't bother to show up at the tourney.
On Twitter, Thomas celebrated his Arkansas move....
...but he also expressed pride regarding his time in Colorado:
Yet Thomas's fresh start went sour earlier this month, when Arkansas' KATV announced that he had been arrested on a forgery charge alongside two fellow Razorback basketball players, sophomore guard Anton Beard and senior forward Jacorey Williams.
A report from the Fayetteville Police Department cited by the station notes that investigators had been looking into alleged passing of counterfeit money in the area since May — and along the way, they obtained surveillance footage that showed the three players doling out bogus bills.
Beard is said to have used counterfeit twenties and fifties on three occasions during mid-July, while Thomas allegedly did so twice and Williams once. They're all accused of using the funny money to purchase items in the Fayetteville area — and Beard allegedly asked a clerk to change six fake fifties for three $100 bills.
When confronted with this evidence, the three players acknowledged that they'd been captured on video, but "denied knowing the money was counterfeit," KATV allows.
Nonetheless, Beard has been charged with nine counts of first-degree forgery, while Thomas is looking at two and Williams one. Each count carries a maximum penalty of twenty years in jail. They're next due in court on August 24.
Williams, for his part, is in even more trouble. He's been linked to two alleged assaults, with one of the victims described as his girlfriend.
In the meantime, the University of Arkansas is distancing itself from the trio. A statement from the school after the forgery busts reads in part: "We have become aware of a pending legal issue involving three men's basketball student-athletes. The student-athletes have been suspended indefinitely from the men's basketball program. Our continued expectation is that our student-athletes conduct themselves in an appropriate manner at all times."
Maybe Thomas should have stayed in Colorado.
Look below to see booking photos of Thomas, Beard and Williams, followed by a KATV report and a CUBuffs.com interview with Thomas from January.Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
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