It’s top five moments at UW
If I had to pick a favorite Seattle area athlete, I would think long and hard about it, then probably still give you a list of around 20. But basketball has always owned my heart—Washington Huskies basketball specifically—and in recent memory, one UW star has stood out more than others.
Arguably, in the last few years, no one has given the Dawgpack more hair-raising, feet-stomping, crowd-electrifying moments then the pint-size point guard with the biggest heart on the court—Isaiah Thomas.
Here are, in chronological order, five of my best memories from IT’s time at Washington.
*Warning: In the making of this article, excessive amounts of time was wasted watching YouTube highlights.
Isaiah Who? Spring 2008
Isaiah Thomas signs a letter of intent to play for the University of Washington Men’s Basketball program. He originally committed to UW in April 2006 before academic circumstances led to him taking an extra year at the South Kent School in Connecticut.
At 5’9” and 170 pounds, Thomas was ranked as the 65th-best point guard in the country and he earned a ranking of 76 according to ESPN. He was the least-hyped player in the Huskies’ recruiting class for that year.
Despite his lack of size, he starred for South Kent and Curtis High School in Seattle as a combo guard, carving up defenses with his explosive slashing ability and lethal shot. The Pac-12 would soon come to know both.
Washington vs. Florida: November 25, 2008
As a true freshman, Isaiah played out of his mind against nationally-ranked UF, dropping 17 points and nine assists with three rebounds, an assist and a block in an 86-84 loss. He had played well up to that point, but that game helped establish him as a special player and a fearless competitor.
He donned Nate Robinson’s old No. 2 jersey (with Robinson’s blessing) and would wear it during his entire time at Washington.
Isaiah Out-duels Klay Thompson: March 10, 2011
Fast forward two seasons. Thomas has developed a more well-rounded game, improved his inconsistent free-throw shooting and matured overall as a player. He emerged as the clear leader of the 2010-11 Huskies, following Quincy Pondexter’s departure.
Washington went into the 2010 Pac-12 (then Pac-10) tournament having dropped both regular season clashes against Washington State. In an epic back-and-forth battle, Thomas and Washington State gunner Klay Thompson quickly emerged as the go-to guys of their teams, guarding each other and matching big shots and plays.
Thompson would break the Pac-12 tournament record for points in a game by dropping 43 with an astonishing eight three-pointers. But Washington never wavered. Thomas dropped a cool 22 points, but never forgot his team, notching a remarkable 11 assists.
If you combine the buckets and assists of both players, Thomas actually accounted for more points. IT’s leadership that day kept the team alive during tough stretches, as UW pulled out a huge win.
Pac-10 Championship Finals: March 12th, 2011
I don’t even need to say anything. Isaiah’s finest moment.
2011 NBA Draft
On June 23, 2011, with the sixteenth pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings selected junior point guard Isaiah Thomas from the University of Washington.
An under-recruited 5’9” kid nobody had heard of had come a long way. A few months later, Isaiah would be named the February NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month, in the midst of a solid season.
Starting for the Kings every night at the 1, Thomas has averaged 14 and four daily. Husky Nation couldn’t be prouder.
It’s been real, Isaiah. As much as I wish you’d returned for your senior year, it was the right decision to go when you did. But we’ll always have our memories of Thomas’ remarkable career at Washington.