Thomas to preach basics at his camp

todd.milles@thenewstribune.comJune 23, 2013 

Isaiah Thomas’ second season in the NBA for the Sacramento Kings was a twisting, turning, tumultuous — and yet still thoroughly enjoyable — adventure.

And now the 24-year-old guard from Curtis High School and the University of Washington can breathe a bit easier this offseason.

Thomas is returning to UW for the Huskies’ alumni game Sunday at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, reuniting with the likes of Brandon Roy, Will Conroy, Jon Brockman, Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross.

And then it is a short trip home — to Tacoma — where he is hosting the Isaiah Thomas Youth Skills Academy for three days starting Monday at the Henry T. Schatz Boys & Girls Club.

“I love these camps, especially my Tacoma camp,” Thomas said. “It’s made me feel … so blessed to give back to the community of Tacoma. The smiles on the kids’ faces are priceless.”

Thomas debuted the three-day camp in Tacoma last summer. After it was over, the most common suggestion he received from parents was emphasizing more fundamental work for the kids.

“That is the feedback I got — and that is the main focus,” Thomas said. “We will be concentrating on all of it — dribbling, shooting, passing. Heck, that is what I am doing myself right now, getting my right hand as strong as my left hand. I am trying to show the kids I am working on things like that.”

Most of the children, ages 6-16, who have signed up are repeat campers. Also, Thomas has donated 40 full scholarships for children at the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound and the Peoples Community Center in Hilltop.

“Hopefully we get some new faces,” Thomas said.

As for his full-time job — NBA point guard — Thomas started a career-high 62 games for the Kings in the 2012-13 season, averaging 13.9 points and 4.0 assists per game. Off the court, he faced constant speculation about being traded, and if he stayed with the Kings, would he rather be in Sacramento or relocate to Seattle.

“Yeah, that was definitely difficult for me. Everywhere I went, I had to answer to the Seattle-Sacramento question,” Thomas said. “I didn’t know any more than the next man. I didn’t know any more than what I read in the newspaper.

“At the end of the day, it is a win-win situation. I either would have come home to Seattle, or at the same time if we stayed in Sacramento, the fans there have embraced me with open arms.”

Asked if he thought Seattle would one day get an NBA franchise, he said he is sure the city will.

“Especially with the fight they put up the past four-five months,” he said. “The NBA will have a team in Seattle the next couple of years.”

Thomas was also introduced to another sport — though some think of it as a stressful activity — golf. On a day off for the Kings, he went out for a round with former assistant coach Bobby Jackson, a 1997 draft pick by the Sonics who traded the same day for James Cotton. Jackson was not retained when new coach Mike Malone was hired earlier this month.

“I was horrible,” Thomas said, “but it was definitely fun. It was a good thing to do to get your mind off things.”

And, of course, Thomas’ alma mater — Curtis High School — captured the Class 4A state basketball championship in March. Former teammate Erik Evans, still one of his best friends, was one of the Vikings’ assistant coaches under Tim Kelly.

“I followed the whole thing,” Thomas said. “Erik texted updates. And once they went to the state tournament, I got on and followed every game on The News Tribune (website). And they sent me a state championship shirt in the mail down there.”

todd.milles@thenewstribune.com

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