Montini coach Daryl Thomas, a St. Joseph legend, dies

Coach Daryl Thomas works with campers. | Sun-Times file photo.

Montini basketball coach Daryl Thomas, a legendary player at St. Joseph and Indiana University, died Wednesday morning. He was 52.

Thomas was a McDonald’s All-American at St. Joseph in 1983. He played for Gene Pingatore at St. Joseph and Bobby Knight at Indiana.

“We are just devastated, it is a total shock,” Pingatore said. “In his day he was a great player, but he was a great person too.”

Thomas averaged 15.7 points per game in 1987 for Indiana’s national championship winners. He scored 20 points against Syracuse in the title game.

“He was a success in everything he’s been a part of,” St. Joseph assistant coach Bill Riley, who has known Thomas since the 1980’s, said. “He brought such a huge personality to work every day. The kids adored him, the coaches thought they had a good friend, someone they could trust. He was that kind of a guy. It is a terrible loss.”

Thomas scored 1,095 points and grabbed 419 rebounds in four seasons with the Hoosiers. He was drafted by the Sacramento Kings after college and played in the NBA briefly. Thomas played pro ball in Europe for more than a decade.

“Saddened to hear of the passing of Hoosier legend and National Champion Daryl Thomas. Beloved by his teammates and coaches, our prayers go out to his wife Marta, his children, and the Montini Catholic HS community he served,” current Indiana coach Archie Miller tweeted out on Wednesday.

Thomas was an assistant coach at St. Joseph for eight years and took over as head coach at Montini in 2015.

“He was so proud to be a head coach,” Riley said. “I can’t think of anyone else in the basketball community that has touched so many lives and had so many friends. He was involved with the Bulls-Sox Academy for years and ran camps all over the western suburbs. Daryl just had the unique ability to take a child, big or small, and he could give them a hug and a smile and make them feel like everything would be ok.”

Thomas has two sons and a daughter.

“He was really looking forward to coaching his son,” Pingatore said. “That is another part of it that is so sad. He has such a great family, just a great father and husband.”


  • Felicia Fort

    Wow, I’m in shock to learn of this I grew up with Darrell from childhood on the westside of Chicago then come to learn he lived in the same town of Bolingbrook with me only 6 years ago and I met his wife and children such a beautiful family. I only wish he was here longer so that his son’s can see what a great ball player he was. My prayers go out to his wife and children

  • Yvonne Matthews

    RIP Daryl. We will remember the many times you played basket in our back yard with Darryl, Torrence, Derreck, many more. Condolences to the Thomas Family/

  • PistolPete44

    Met him briefly. What a terrific personality in the little time visited with him. Positive and warm guy. Something needs to be named in his honor so we never forget him and others know of him down the road.

  • Paul

    One of the best high school players ever that this state has ever produced. The 83 St Joe’s team was at one time the number 1 rated team in the country

  • Paulette Smith

    My thoughts and prayers are with the Thomas family. My family and I met Coach D when my grandson played at STJ. What a wonderful example of man first and then coach, wonderful personality and his gift for relating to the kids, his knowledge of the game was second to none. He believed if you inspire them they will do well. You will be missed. Mama Smith

  • Gary kuta

    I came to now Daryl Thomas a couple years ago, he was alway’s there to meet you with a big hug, when I would go to the Montint games he would always give me a big hug and say come sit on the bench behind me, he would call me his good luck charm, when I went to the games Montini they would alway’s win, a man bigger than life who would alway’s rember the little guy, a great loss for the Basketball community, and a bigger loss for mankind.

  • Gov

    What more can be said about the man? Peoples life have been touched knowing Daryl. He was not only my friend but my families. Our Prayers go out to his family. He will be missed.

  • Darryl Thomas

    My brother. You will never be forgotten I thank you for the childhood memories we shared my prayers today and forever are with you and your family . Love R I P Your Friend Little D

  • kym Spalding

    Daryl will be missed he’s was my play cousin so funny and always teased me about my height. I will miss his jokes and smile. Praying for his beautiful wife, kids and Family. Rip cuz. Kym S.


    RIP Daryl. Condolences to his family and friends. The early 80’s at St. Joseph when my brother Robert played with him, were some of the best times ever.

  • Lynn Crawford

    IU fan–Darryl was one of the best. So hardworking. The IU crowd loved him. I am so sad.

  • High school fan

    Loved the Big Fella!!! The St. Joseph Family lost a great one!!! RIP Daryl

  • John

    Coach Daryl was the most positive person I ever knew, those hugs and high fives were his trademarks, he always really did make you feel better. He will be missed by so many.

  • J. B.

    Daryl was a great inspiration to my son, who trained and played under him for years at the Bulls/Sox Academy. He had a wonderful disposition and really connected with the kids he coached. Prayers of strength for Daryl’s family for their untimely loss.

  • H.E.

    My son who’s name I will not mention, is c/o 2021. He chose Montini over his hometown of Bolingbrook. Daryl, started recruiting my son in the 7th grade. He played sophomore and a limited role on varsity. Although, he was ready to contribute more on varsity, Daryl wanted to take it slow, He said he wanted him to be a complete player. Daryl wanted to develop the whole man,and not just the athlete. He was so excited about the upcoming season. Daryl Thomas had that program headed in the right direction. His door was always open,you could call him 24/7. He will be missed as a coach,and more importantly as a friend. My heart goes out to his entire Family.

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