Daryl Thomas, Montini boys basketball coach the past three seasons and an all-Big Ten player on Indiana University's 1987 NCAA Division I basketball championship team, died Wednesday morning.
Few details had emerged by early Wednesday afternoon other than Thomas, 52, had died from a "massive heart attack" in his Bolingbrook home, according to Montini Catholic and the school's president, Jim Segredo.
"Obviously our sympathies and thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Marta, and his children and his family and loved ones. He'll be truly missed at Montini Catholic," Segredo said.
"He was a tremendous role model for our students here. Daryl was a true gentlemen in every sense of the word, just a fine man and he will be sorely missed at our school. I'm sure he will be missed throughout the Chicagoland area," Segredo said.
A 6-foot-7 center and forward during his playing career, Thomas played under two legendary coaches before joining the coaching ranks himself. At St. Joseph High School in Westchester, he earned 1983 all-state and McDonald's and Parade All-American status as a senior for Gene Pingatore, the state's career leader in boys basketball victories. Thomas then started three years for Bob Knight at Indiana University, earning all-Big Ten honors his junior and senior seasons.
Drafted by the Sacramento Kings, Thomas played professionally for 13 years in Europe and South America, according to the Bulls/Sox Youth Academy in Lisle, where Thomas was a lead instructor in player development. He is a member of the East Suburban Catholic Conference and the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association halls of fame.
Thomas returned to St. Joseph to assist Pingatore for nine years before he was introduced as Montini's boys basketball coach on June 2, 2015. He led Montini to a solid 17-11 record this season and in three seasons with the Broncos went 35-50.
"His character really stood out in the interview and he played at the highest level, but he knew what was important was to emphasize teaching the game the right way and having the young men play the right way, and also the main importance that they be good students in the classroom and good representatives of Montini Catholic on the court, home and away. Daryl's just a class act," Segredo said.