Thomas to become fifth Washington athlete with a retired jersey joining Bob Houbregs, Brandon Roy, Krista Vansant and Courtney Thompson at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Isaiah Thomas, the little guy who made a big impact on the Washington men’s basketball team, will have his No. 2 jersey retired, the school announced Thursday.
“Isaiah’s heart, competitiveness, grit, determination and perseverance through challenges define what it means to be a Husky,” athletic director Jen Cohen said in a statement released by UW. “He has faced obstacles at every stage of his journey, and it is my hope that his jersey in the rafters will serve as an inspiration to many more young men and women throughout the state, to know that anything is possible.”
During a Feb. 15 game against Utah, Thomas will become the fifth Husky athlete and third men’s basketball player to have his jersey hang in the Alaska Airlines Arena rafters.
“Words can’t describe how grateful I am to receive this honor,” Thomas said. “The University of Washington provided me the opportunity and support to pursue my dream of playing professional basketball, but it has also shaped who I am as a person. I always dreamed of becoming a Husky, playing in Hec Ed and earning my degree from Washington, and to know that my name will live there forever means the world to me.”
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Thomas, a 5-foot-9 guard, averaged 16.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.2 steals during during his three-year (2008-11) career. He ranks eighth on UW’s all-time scoring list and fourth in assists.
The Huskies won three consecutive conference championships (one regular-season title and two conference tournament titles) and made three trips to the NCAA tournament, including a Sweet 16 appearance with Thomas at the helm. During his tenure, UW was 76-30 (.717) – the winningest three-year stretch in school history.
In 2011, Thomas was an honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press. During his abbreviated UW career he was a two-time tournament MVP (2010 and ’11), twice voted all-conference first team (2010 and ’11) and all-conference second team (2009) by league coaches. He was also the 2009 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.
The dynamic guard provided perhaps the most memorable play in UW history when he sank a step-back, buzzer-beating, game-winning shot for a 77-75 win over Arizona that gave the Huskies the 2011 Pac-10 tournament title.
Thomas was the last (60th) pick of the NBA Draft in 2011 and spent three seasons (2011-14) with the Sacramento Kings before he was traded to Phoenix. He spent half of the 2014-15 season with the Suns who dealt him to Boston.
During a 2 1/2-year tenure with the Celtics, Thomas became a two-time All-Star and rose to stardom. He averaged 28.9 points, 5.9 assists and 2.7 rebounds during the 2016-17 season. His scoring average was third in the league and the second highest in Celtics history behind Larry Bird’s 29.9 in 1987-88.
Boston traded Thomas to Cleveland in August, but he has not played this season due to a hip injury.
Thomas, a Tacoma native, averaged 31.6 points a game as a junior during the 2005-06 season at Curtis High in University Place. He set a Class 4A tournament record with 51 points and was the state’s player of the year that season.
Thomas played at South Kent School in South Kent, Conn. as a senior before starting what would become a legendary Husky career. Other UW athletes with retired jerseys at Alaska Airlines Arena include: Bob Houbregs (25) and Brandon Roy (3) in basketball and volleyball players Krista Vansant (16) and Courtney Thompson (3).