Kathy Thomas comes to UI after year at junior college
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Kathy Thomas on the court
Photo provided by Aaron Blau.

Kathy Thomas grew up dreaming of becoming a Division I basketball player. She had chances to make that dream become reality out of high school, but never found the right fit. After a year at a junior college, Thomas is living out her dream at the University of Iowa.

Thomas is in her first year as a guard on the UI women's basketball team, but is a sophomore on the roster. The Flint, Mich., native began her collegiate basketball career at Highland Community College in Highland, Kan., after deciding to wait on her dream for a season.

"I visited a few Division I schools during high school," Thomas says. "I wasn't excited about the offers I had. When I went on my visits, I never felt 100 percent comfortable at any of the schools. I decided to go to a junior college instead."

Thomas made that decision, knowing her Division I dream was on the line. If she produced, more offers would come. If she had an off year, it would be hard to get back on the radar.

"I told myself I had to have a good year right away," Thomas says. "I wanted to try and get more offers after my freshman year."

Not only did Thomas have a good year at Highland, she led her team to the most successful season in school history and picked up countless accolades along the way. Her junior college team compiled a 28-4 record, placing second in the Jayhawk Conference and advanced to the NJCAA Division II District B finals.

Thomas was an NJCAA first team All-American, Jayhawk Conference Player, and Freshman of the Year, and a first team all-region pick. She averaged 22 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 2.9 steals.

During the playoff run, Thomas started to get a few phone calls.

"I started getting some interest from Division I schools during the playoffs," Thomas says. "Then, I got that big call from Iowa."

Iowa had shown interest in Thomas during high school, but she never received a scholarship offer. But as she was proving her skills at Highland, an injury opened up a roster spot in Iowa City and she pulled the trigger immediately.

"Iowa asked me to come for a visit, and I was ready to commit on the phone right away," Thomas says. "I came on my visit and knew I wanted to be at Iowa. I told Coach Bluder that Iowa is where I wanted to be."

Not only did Iowa provide Thomas a chance at Division I, she immediately found the comfort level she was looking for out of high school.

"It's so calm around the program," Thomas says. "The coaching staff is incredible. I've never met a group of coaches that are all for the girls on the team and love the girls as if they were one of their own. The team has one mindset, and that's to do well on the court and in the classroom."

Thomas' playing résumé is filled with individual accolades, but the feisty guard just wants her team to win.

"I'm not big on individual awards," Thomas says. "I wanted to help my team (in junior college) go somewhere they had never been before. We made school history, and I'm more proud of that than any individual awards."

Thomas brought that same attitude with her to Iowa City, and she wants to do anything it takes to help the Hawkeyes be successful.

"Whatever it takes for my team to win, that's what I'm going to do," Thomas says. "If that means sitting on the bench, that's what I'll do. I just want to give it 100 percent every time out and see our team be successful."