Dishin & Swishin Q&A looks at the Class of 2014: Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas is the ultimate jack of all trades on the court
Alyssa Thomas is the NCAA women’s basketball definition of “jack of all trades.”
Thomas has played every position on the court at some time in her four years at Maryland. This year alone, she led the team in minutes played, scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. She is now the all-time leading scorer in Maryland basketball, men and women, and has amassed 25 double-doubles and four triple doubles this season. For all of this, Thomas was named the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year for the third straight time, is a finalist for every major award and saw her jersey raised to the rafters on senior day.
Yet, she would gladly trade it for a national championship. Part of what makes Thomas a special player is that selflessness. She is about the wins, not the awards; a trait that will help her tremendously as she adapts to the rigors of professional basketball.
While Thomas is one of the best college basketball players in the country, there is some question about Thomas as a WNBA player to many observers. The flexibility that makes her so versatile at Maryland, is labeled as a player “without a position” in the pros. If attitude and effort are any determining factor though, I would not bet against Alyssa Thomas having a long and successful WNBA career.
What Does the WNBA think of Thomas? An insider says:
Thomas is a bit of a tweener, is she big enough to play the four? Does she have a good enough handle, shot and can she defensively play the three? Good skill set, ability to rebound and bring it down court is a big plus. She also has shown durability despite a lot of contact. She appears to be a hard worker who will get better as her career progresses.
DNS: Let’s start with senior day. Last home game, jersey to the rafters, so the big question is, how much did you cry?
AT: (laughs) I actually didn’t cry that much. I did slip up a little bit when I was in the middle of my speech, but that was the only time.
DNS: You played your last game at Comcast, yet you know you have two more games at Comcast in the NCAA Tournament. Does that have any kind of impact on your feelings on senior night?
AT: We did talk about that; it’s not really our last game at Comcast, but I think just the whole thought of ‘you are a senior and this is the last regular-season game, the last conference game you’ll play here.’ I think there will probably be more emotions after the last actual game here during the tournament.
DNS: Then you went out and took care of business like you’ve done most of the season. Let’s talk about Maryland’s season. The regular season was super; you had all these tremendous statistics, the team was ranked in the top 10 most of the year. How excited do you get for the next step in the post-season?
AT: I get extremely excited! You know this is what we have been working for all season. It’s finally here; conference time and the NCAA Tournament is when you’re trying to play your best basketball. It’s one-and-done so we’ve just got a kick it up another notch.
DNS: You’re not a person that goes out looking for the limelight, looking for the spotlight to be on you. Has it been uncomfortable with the player the year pushes, people at the school and nationally trying to push you individually as well as the school?
AT: I try not to look into it that much. I’m more focused on the team and trying to win a championship and that’s really my main focal point.
DNS: That said, how cool is it to see your number 25 go up into the rafters?
AT: It was kind of breathtaking being able to see that happen and to go up there with people that started to make the Maryland legacy. I couldn’t be any more honored
DNS: You passed Crystal Langhorne as the all-time leading scorer in program history, and the championship team are all up there. That is a pretty lofty group of people that you’re up there with.
AT: Absolutely, I watched them growing up win a national championship. I’ve met them in person, so to go up there with them, I’m truly honored just to be mentioned in the same sentence as them.
DNS: You are leading the team this year in minutes played, scoring, rebounding, assists, and steals. It’s pretty breathtaking to sit back and analyze the type of year that you’ve had, and just the fact that you’ve done all playing several different positions has shown your flexibility as a player.
AT: Last year I played I played point guard a lot; this year sometimes I’ll go down to the four, occasionally go up to the point guard, but I just go wherever my team needs me for us to be successful. I just try to do whatever needs to be done
DNS: I’ll bet its nice having a couple of healthy guards back on the roster this year.
DNS: You mentioned the word legacy before; what would you like your legacy at Maryland to be?
AT: I just want people to see me as a hard worker that did whatever needed to be done on the court. Someone played hard no matter what the situation was.
DNS: Maryland is leaving the ACC after this year. Are you glad that you’re leaving as a member of the ACC?
AT: I don’t think that it really matters, because no matter what conference we’re in, it still says “Maryland” on our chest, so nothing can change that. It’s just a different conference.
DNS: Senior day also included a celebration of “Team Tyler.” You have been very noticeable, front and center in your support of coach Frese and the charity. Can you talk for a second about what that means to you?
AT: I think it’s a great thing. When we first found out that Tyler had leukemia, I think the biggest thing that we saw was the strength of coach B; how she was still able to come to practice despite him having leukemia. The growth of the foundation has been a phenomenal thing to watch and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it. Giving back is a huge part of my life; you have so many people that look up to you, you just want to be able to give back.
DNS: So its WNBA draft day, you’re undoubtedly going to be one of the first five picks taken. How exciting is that going to be, and how excited are you to become a professional and start the next phase of your career?
AT: It will be a dream come true. It’s something that you dream of when you’re a kid, now it’s soon to become a reality and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out! Wherever I end up, I can’t wait to continue playing basketball.