Thybulle, the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year winner, will return for his senior season with the Huskies.
Reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Matisse Thybulle will return for his senior season at Washington, ending speculation about whether he would leave early for the NBA draft.
“The NBA is really enticing and it was definitely something that I seriously considered when the season was over,” Thybulle said. “I talked it over with my family and we came to the conclusion that it would be in my best interest to stay and get my degree (in communications) and grow as a basketball player and take this last year to mature and fine tune everything so I can be fully prepared to take that next step when it’s time.”
The 6-foot-5 guard, who is projected to be a second-round pick in 2019, is an intriguing prospect considering his freakish 7-foot wingspan, uncanny defensive acumen and developing offensive repertoire.
Last season, Thybulle set the UW single-season record with 101 steals, which ranks second on the Pac-12 single-season list. He also holds the school’s career steals record with 205. He finished with a team-high 49 blocks last season and his 103 career blocks rank sixth in UW history.
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Thybulle, who has started every game the past three seasons (99 in a row), averaged a personal-best 11.2 points in 2017-18.
Following the season, speculation grew that Thybulle might follow UW junior forward Noah Dickerson and enter the NBA draft without hiring an agent, a move that allows him to participate in pre-draft activities while leaving the door open on a possible return to school.
The early-entry deadline for the 2018 NBA draft passed Sunday night with as many as (35) non-seniors declaring for the draft. They have until June 11 to with from the draft and return to college.
“I talked to Coach (Mike Hopkins) and he gave me some good advice that was honestly something that helped in the grand scheme of things,” Thybulle said. “He told me that if I do it (enter the draft), then I should be all in because that’s what I’m going to be up against is a whole bunch of guys fighting for their lives. He thought it would be a better idea for me to stay in school until I’m at that point.”
Hopkins made great strides in his first year with the Huskies and Thybulle in particular.
“We’ve seen him dominate games on the defensive end, now he needs to build on that,” Hopkins said following an 85-81 season ending loss at Saint Mary’s in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament. “The next stage in his development is unlocking some of his offensive gifts … and getting him to be more assertive on the offensive end.”
If Dickerson returns, Washington is expected to bring back five starters and eight of its top nine scorers on a team that finished 21-13 – the most wins since 2011-12. The Huskies also bring in a top-25 recruiting class highlighted by two ESPN top-100 prospects.
Thybulle believes the Huskies are poised to snap its seven-year NCAA tournament drought.
“We got to know each other really well in terms of players and in terms of the new staff,” Thybulle said. “With all that taken in consideration, the sky is the limit. We had a lot of growing pains to get through this year and now that we’ve got through them I think we’ll continue to get better.”