With success overseas, forward Alyssa Thomas makes quick transition to fourth WNBA season
Basketball has taken Alyssa Thomas to the most competitive courts in the United States and abroad.
And the competition will soon continue with WNBA training camps scheduled to open at the end of the week.
“Time has really flown,” said Thomas, the former Parade All-American at Central Dauphin and Maryland’s three-time Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year.
“I’m going into my fourth year now and I’m one of the best on the team, but I never expected it to happen so quickly.”
Thomas took time out recently to attend the Roundball Classic All-Star games at Harrisburg Christian. In reality, it was a 30-second TO.
Since sharpening her skill set as a youngster at Brightbill Park, and skyrocketing to the top of Maryland’s career scoring list, Thomas has continued to run.
From Korea to Turkey to her developing role with the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, the 6-2 power forward is looking forward to more.
Thomas averaged 11.1 points and 6 rebounds per game last season with the Sun. PennLive/Mark Pynes
“Just being able to play against the very best every night really brings out the best in you,” she said.
“You’ve got to have your A-game every night. Then playing overseas you get to travel and see places that you would never have imaged. Basketball has really taken me to a lot of different places.”
It’s no coincidence that team success has followed Thomas at nearly every stage of her career.
Taking advantage of the more lucrative contracts abroad, Thomas just returned from her third season overseas, where her Samsung Blueminx finished second in the Women’s Korean Basketball League.
Minnesota Lynx forward Natasha Howard, a former standout at Florida State, was a teammate for the professional franchise near Seoul.
Because there are no salary restrictions overseas, the best women’s basketball players can make up to 12 times their WNBA salaries in the offseason.
“That’s part of the reason we go overseas, to make money that we don’t make here in America,” said Thomas, whose younger brother, former Wake Forest star Devin Thomas, currently plays in the Turkish Super League.
More than half of the players on WNBA rosters competed for teams throughout Europe and Asia in 2016-17.
Thomas, a three-time ACC Player of the Year, finished as Maryland’s career leader in points, rebounds, and double-doubles. PennLive
Following her rookie season in the WNBA, Thomas was the first overall draft pick by Buncheon KEB Hana Bank in the WKBL. She played for Yakin Dogu Universitesi in Turkey last year.
“The rules are a little different in Korea, where there is just one American allowed on the court at any time,” Thomas said.
“Culturally, it’s really different. If you’re not working then you’re not doing enough. They’ll practice three times a day if needed. But it’s great. I really enjoyed the team that I was on.”
Thomas is now focused on getting Connecticut into the upper tier of the WNBA. That’s next on her deep list of basketball accomplishments.
She posted a career-best 11.1 points and six rebounds per game for the Sun last season, but Connecticut (14-20) narrowly missed the postseason.
“I think we finally have a lot of the same players returning, the core is back, so I think it will be really good for us,” Thomas said.
“Last year we struggled under a new coach but, hopefully, this year is a playoff run.”
Connecticut, which drafted another former Maryland star, center Brionna Jones, with its first-round pick earlier this month, opens the WNBA season May 13 against Atlanta.