Throwback Thursday--Billy Thomas
Sept. 30, 2010
Billy Thomas (men’s basketball, 1995-98)
A four-year letterwinner for the Kansas men’s basketball team, Thomas is one of the best long range shooters to ever don the Crimson and Blue. Thomas, who ranks 37th on the KU all-time scoring chart with 1,152 points, was part of four NCAA Tournament teams and four conference championship teams. In addition, during Thomas’ four years suiting up for the Jayhawks, KU went undefeated in Allen Fieldhouse. He ranks second on both the three-point field goals made chart (269) and three-point field goals attempted (691). Thomas recently retired from his professional basketball career that spanned over 13 years. He played for three NBA teams, in several European countries and also in the NBDL. He was recently hired to be an assistant boys basketball coach at Blue Valley Northwest High School and is also teaching private basketball lessons through his personal company The Billy Thomas Hoops Academy. Thomas currently resides in Overland Park, Kan., with his wife Raquel and son Zion.
When did you first start playing basketball?
“It was about 25 years ago! I think I was about age nine when I started playing basketball.”
Why did you choose to attend KU?
“I was blown away by my recruiting visit to KU. From that point on I was a Jayhawk. Once you come to Kansas I don’t see how you could possibly choose to go anywhere else.”
What was your most memorable basketball moment at Kansas?
“My most memorable basketball moment was when my mother, friends and family were in attendance when I became the all-time leading three-point scorer in KU history. Having them on hand for that moment was very special to me.”
Do you keep in contact with former teammates and coaches?
“Yes I do. I have worked basketball camp at North Carolina for three or four years so I keep in touch with a lot of people from my day by working camp. I still speak with some of my former teammates like C.B. McGrath, Jerod Haase, Jacque Vaughn, Terry Nooner and Nick Bradford.”
What was your everyday experience like playing overseas?
“Playing overseas is much different from the United States. It was a blessing and a learning experience. It was a learning experience because you got to go out and explore other cultures and get thrown out of your comfort zone. I learned that you have to adapt to other countries’ cultures in order to make it.”
What was the experience like playing in Cleveland with LeBron James?
“It was unbelievable. If you compare playing in Cleveland with the two other teams I have played for in the NBA, playing with LeBron was a very unique situation because of his status as a player. He was a great teammate and Cleveland was a very well run organization.”
Has basketball taught you any life lessons?
“It has taught me about perseverance, dignity and winning and losing with class. Basketball has also taught me about teamwork and loyalty.”
What has led you to retirement?
“I was ready to settle down and put a stop to all of the traveling that I was doing and I was ready to start my own family.”
Will you miss the game of basketball?
“I did think I would, but I have been done since last April. To my surprise, I do not really miss it, but there are definitely days I wake up and want to get some shots up. I think doing that really helps me because I can still have pick-up games with the guys.”
What are your plans now that your playing career is over?
“I want to eventually be a coach because I enjoy the teaching aspect of the game. I also enjoy helping kids build confidence and I want to impart the same life lessons that I have learned on others.”
Allen Fieldhouse has changed a bit since you were in uniform, have you seen the new renovations?
“Yes, I have seen the new facilities and they are second to none in my opinion. It actually emulates most NBA arenas. The facilities at Kansas are unbelievable and I believe that when people come to visit they will be blown away by the new facilities.”