'It's home for me': Jasmine Thomas re-signs with Connecticut
Thomas plans further impact on and off the court with Sun
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On Thursday, the Connecticut Sun announced that the team has signed Jasmine Thomas to a multi-year contract.
“It's home for me, I know you probably hear that a lot with a lot of us but that's a really big part of it is the culture,” Thomas said on a Zoom call with media. “That feeling of knowing that you're valued, knowing your role, knowing that you're all on the same page for the direction that you want that organization to go in.”
She later added, “I felt like, that's where I am in my career. I'm not trying to redefine myself I'm not trying to prove myself I'm really just happy to be a part of an organization that accepts me, that wants to win a championship and do something that's never been done in the organization. So just putting all those pieces together, it felt like the right thing for me to do was to stay in Connecticut.”
Thomas, who entered the league in 2011, has been with Connecticut since 2015. She has started all but one game of her Sun career and has missed just five regular-season games.
In 19 games last season Thomas averaged 10.2 points, 4.0 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
After six seasons, Thomas has made a name for herself in the franchise’s record books. She ranks second all-time in assists (858), seventh in games played (187) and eighth in points (2,139).
In addition to her success on the offensive end of the floor, she has been one of the top defensive guards in the league. She was named to the WNBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2016 and the All-Defensive First Team in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
“When I'm no longer playing I want to leave a legacy that I've impacted and left some of what defines me as a person, as a player in Connecticut,” she said.
Thomas is the third longest-tenured starting point guard in the league, behind only Sue Bird and Courtney Vandersloot.
Head coach and general manager Curt Miller is excited to have his veteran point guard back.
“She is our leader, on and off the court, and sometimes doesn't get the credit that she deserves,” Miller said. “But she's reliable, she's steady, she's a true professional that prepares every day.”
For all of Thomas’ success on the court, she has been just as impactful off the court. She has been at the forefront of the Sun’s Breast Health Awareness campaign, raising money for the Kay Yow Foundation in each of the last two seasons.
Miller has taken notice of her impact, saying, “She single-handedly has brought the Kay Yow foundation to the WNBA. It's such a visible part of college women's basketball but Jas has really helped shine a light on that [at the WNBA level]. She's been very active and proud in social activism causes and opportunities.”
She was also a crucial part of the league’s Change Can’t Wait campaign during the 2020 season.
Thomas intends to continue these efforts beyond her tenure in Connecticut.
“I talked with Curt and Amber a lot just about making an impact off the court and kind of when that transition period comes for my life after basketball being able to do some of those things in Connecticut. With the Change Can't Wait campaign and the things that we've consistently been talking about doing so that we're making something sustainable not just for the moment now but for forever. For us to be able to really get in the community.” she said.
She is passionate about being involved in these initiatives, knowing that she does not just represent herself.
“I love being part of that and involved in those conversations, on those zoom calls, threaded in those emails. And I think it's important. I feel like I represent myself, I represent my family but also my teammates. Everybody isn't as comfortable in those situations, but they are comfortable talking to me so I feel like I'm kind of that bridge,” Thomas said.
In the past, players have not wanted to stay in Connecticut, but recently that narrative has started to change.
“There isn't much to do in the area but when you're around a group that you really grow to know very well and that's not just the players that staff included, you just feel comfortable going through that together. Everybody knows that we don't have anything to do so we bond more off the court. We try to do more things together as a team to give us something to do,” Thomas said.
She added, “But it really is the people, the relationships from the tribe to the front office to the relationships we have with our teammates. It makes it a really good place to be and when you're trying to win and you're trying to really focus on basketball I think it's a great environment to do that.”
Miller refused to take credit for changing the narrative about Connecticut, instead crediting the people around him, from the assistant coaches to the front office and ownership group.
“Players will re-sign because they have great relationships with assistant coaches. I got a boss and a vice president in Amber Cox who is player first, driven and wants to create the best experience possible in this league for players, and the players that play here feel that and they know it, and it comes from the top. It's genuine,” he said.
Miller knows his point guard is more than a player that scores and looks forward to continuing to watch her succeed on and off the court.
“You can't always equate what Jasmine brings to a franchise by points, assists, you can't do it,” he said. “It's so much more than that and it's so unfair to only judge Jasmine Thomas by points in assists, she means so much more than that.”