Isaiah was very generous to provide long, thought-out answers, which was much appreciated. Here you go:
Montlake Madness: Do you view yourself as a point guard at the NBA level, or a combo guard who will play next to a more traditional point? And, given your height, do you have any concerns about playing off the ball for the next couple of seasons, when NBA folks might be more interested in eventually drafting you as a point guard who can score?
Isaiah Thomas: I view myself as a point guard at the NBA level. I’ve always been a point guard. I led our team in assists last year, and have always done so on every team I’ve been a part of. I don’t know why some people think it’s a bad thing that you can score 30 on a given night as a point guard. I’ve seen Steve Nash go for 30 a bunch of times, as well as a lot of other point guards, like Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Isiah Thomas, Damon Stoudamire, etc.
In my opinion, and others that I’ve spoken to who are in the NBA, if you can’t score in the league, you do not belong in the league. I won’t be playing off of the ball next season. I will be switching on and off the ball like I did last season with Venoy and J.D.
MM: You made a funny Tweet several months back about jumping into the NBA Draft early. What’s your sense of where your NBA draft stock will be after a good season this year? I assume if you were forecast as a first-round pick, you’d have to consider leaving school early… or is that not the case?
IT: I honestly don’t know where my stock will be, but I don’t think any guys out there at my position are better than me. I’ve always felt like that though. I think anyone who is projected to be a first-round pick has to think about leaving, or at least looking at that option.
That’s a decision that I haven’t really thought of much at all. But when that time comes, I will talk to Coach Romar, my dad, my mom, my brothers, my teammates, etc. It’s not gonna be some easy decision, because that would be a major change. I love college. I love my teammates. I love playing in front of the Dawg Pack. And, I love the Seattle/Tacoma area as a whole, so leaving college early to possibly be taken in the first round would be tough to do. Now if I was a potential lotto pick, that’s a different question!
MM: Who are some of your dream NBA teammates — guys that you hope to play with one day?
IT: Kobe Bryant. I would love to play with him. B-Roy, LeBron! They’re the best players in the league.
MM: Who’s the toughest individual defender you faced in the Pac-10 last season?
IT: I didn’t really ever get to face anyone in a real man-to-man situation. Maybe in spurts during the game, but not really any real man-to-man battles. A lot of teams played zones and trick defenses against us. I thought I was done with those when I left high school, but I guess not. (laughs)
Venoy was probably the best defender I played against last year, and that was in practice. And that’s not talking bad about any other guards in the Pac-10, because Venoy was easily the best perimeter defender in the league last year.
MM: Tell me something the average fan wouldn’t know about the experience of playing in the NCAA tournament.
IT: Just the feeling of knowing you’re representing your school and, for me, also putting on for my city and the state that I was born and raised in. That feeling is unbelievable, as is the feeling of either win or go home. I’m not goin’ home early this year.
MM: Other than winning the Pac-10 championship last season, what has been the highlight of your basketball life?
IT: Outside of that, the highlight of my basketball life happened this summer off of the court. When I was able to speak to Kobe Bryant, “The Black Mamba,” on the phone. He gave me some great advice, and some tips on things to focus on and work on. He told me he’s watched me play a few times, and thinks I can go really far with the game. That’s something I will never forget.
I’ve also been keeping in touch with another of my childhood idols, Isiah Thomas. He has been giving me some great advice as well, and tips on what I need to work on to become, hopefully, as great of a player one say as he was. Being able to build strong relationships with guys like Isiah Thomas and Damon Stoudamire this summer has been great for me. It doesn’t get any better than those two as smaller guards, and those are the guys who I’ve always kinda looked up to. The advice they’ve given me has been invaluable.
MM: What has been the low-point of your basketball playing life until now?
IT: The lowest point was when I had to go to South Kent for my final two years of high school. It was hard, because I was so far away from home at a prep school in Connecticut. I had fun on the court as I always have, but the environment as a whole took a lot of getting used to.
After getting over the homesickness and all that, I accepted the situation for what it was, and took full advantage of every day I was out there. Got my grades right, worked hard on the court, and did what I needed to do to become a Husky.
MM: Tell me a little about Isaiah off the court? What’s your family like? What do you do for fun? What video games, movies, websites, books, etc. are your favorites?
IT: Off the court, I’m a fun-loving guy. I enjoy hanging out with my family, my friends, and my teammates. My family is very supportive and would do anything for me, just as I would do for them. My dad and mom have both worked hard all my life to make sure I was taken care of, and raised right.
They’ve instilled strong values in me, that I will pass onto my kids when I have some. I have a very strong and supportive inner circle that consists of my family, my bro’s (Curtis Terry, Carlton Weatherby, Jamal Crawford, Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson, Jason Terry, Will Conroy, Spencer Hawes, Rodney Stuckey, Alonzo Weatherby, etc.), my teammates, my coaches (past and present), and my close friends. They all keep me level and always tell me if and when they think I’m getting off track, etc.
I’m unbeatable in NBA 2K9 on the Xbox. I like chillin’ with my teammates around campus and around Seattle, and most of all in the gym. I just like to have a good time at all times really.
Thanks for coming! And, again, thanks to Isaiah!