Recruiting & Scouting

Billy Thomas ruled ineligible for state tournament; allowed to play last four games of regular season at North Farmington

Basketball   | Scott Burnstein

State Champs! Sports Network




Farmington Hills - Following a five-week investigation by the Michigan High School Athletic Association, highly-touted North Farmington boys basketball transfer Billy Thomas was ruled eligible for the MHSAA tournament, which begins March 9.

But there’s a catch. Thomas, according to the MHSAA ruling, is eligible to play the remaining games of the regular season.

Thomas is a 6-foot-1 ½ junior shooting guard and Division I college recruit who returned to the state in early January after spending the first semester at a prep school in Virginia (Genesis Academy). He began taking classes at North Farmington in January.

Last year Thomas started in the backcourt at U-D Jesuit on a Cubs squad that won the Catholic League (A-B Division) and advanced to the Class A semifinals.

North Farmington is 14-2. Thomas lives in the Farmington Hills School District and resides on the same street as Raiders center and Cincinnati baseball-commit Alex Darden.

Raiders’ coach Todd Negoshian is left scratching his head.

“We’re glad that Billy will get a chance to play with the guys he grew up in the final weeks of the season,” he said. “But considering the initial information we were presented we’re not sure what’s changed and why he has to sit for the state tournament.”

Because Thomas lived in the same house prior to his transfer, the North Farmington administration believed that his move back and enrollment in the public school in his district made him immediately eligible. Complaints to the MHSAA upon his return ignited an inquiry. 

Interestingly enough, the situation is not unique to North Farmington.

Detroit Cass Tech 6-foot-2 junior center Rose Fall became eligible at the semester break after transferring from Detroit Consortium. However, like Thomas, Fall is banned from participating, by the MHSAA, from participating in the tournament, which starts March 2.

Cass Tech is 14-3. Fall, a Division I college recruit in the post who came to the United State from Senegal a year and a half ago, is averaging 12 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in four games so far this winter.

Consortium has an international foreign exchange program at its school. Cass doesn’t. Which led Technicians coach Marissa Fisher to report the situation to the state. Fall's visa and status within the country was also at issue.

“We want to follow the rules and do everything by the book, we didn’t want to compromise the integrity of our school or our player,” Fisher said. “We wish she was going to be with us in the tournament, but it is what it is.”

The MHSAA declined to comment on either of the internal investigations.

Thomas will play his first game with North Farmington Friday night on the road against Oakland Activities Association Red Division-foe Rochester Adams.