Arizona Women's Basketball

Sam Thomas: ‘We’re never going to get another Aari, but because we had her, we’re getting a lot of attention’

Senior forward Sam Thomas is returning for her fifth season for the UA women’s basketball team following the 2021 NCAA National Championship Finals appearance. Thomas started every game this season and was the 2021 Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She also was named to the All-Pac-12 and Pac-12-All-Defense squad.

(Transcribed by Justin Sternad)

Here is her interview on Fox Sports 1450’s Eye on the Ball:

Q: What are you doing with your life and assume you’re done with classes. What are you doing now?

Sam: “I’ve been enjoying my time by the pool, sleeping in and catching up on all my shows.”

Q: You got a couple of academic awards and stuff like that being recognized for being a good basketball player but also being a good student. How much does all that stuff mean to you?

Sam: “It means a lot, especially to know that there’s obviously life after sports and I’m not going to be playing basketball for the rest of my life. So, it’s just good to keep my academics high but to also win awards for it, it feels great.”

Q: With this past season’s history, have you been noticed more out in public than ever before?

Sam: “Yes, definitely have been noticed a lot more. I’ll go on walks with some of my friends and they’ll get annoyed and be like, OMG you get stalked every time we go for a walk.” (She laughed)

Q: With Coach Adia Barnes getting a big raise due in large part to the work you guys put in, once your eligibility is over with, are you going to ask her for some of that?

Sam: “Yeah I’ll tell her to give me my cut of that check.” (She laughed)

Q: How was this run as fantastic as it was given that people didn’t believe in the team at first given how the regular season ended? How was that?

Sam: “It was unbelievable. I don’t think any experience will match up to it. I think even if we win the national championship next year, it will be a whole different experience just because of everything we’ve already been through this year with COVID, injuries and having to live in a bubble for three weeks when we were there, nothing will compare to it.”

Sam Thomas

Q:  Really why did you want to come back and do this for another year? Was it to finish your masters?

Sam: “I mean all the pros I can think of, I get to finish my masters, not start the real world yet, try and compete for another national championship again and play with Coach Adia and my teammates for another year, there was no real other option for me, I knew I wanted to come back.”

Q: With players leaving and new recruits incoming, you guys aren’t thinking anything less than going back and doing what you did last year, would that be safe to say?

Sam: “Yeah for sure, I mean we’re obviously never going to get another player like Aari, but because we had her, we’re getting a lot of attention and everyone wants to come to Arizona now. It’s the place to be.”

Q: What was your best moment from the tournament for you personally?

Sam: “The UCONN game, just winning that game was the most fun for me because growing up in women’s basketball, everyone looked up to UCONN and never in a million years would I have thought I’d be playing UCONN who basically always wins the national championship. Just being able to accomplish that was amazing for me.”

Q: What are you going to work on now that you have another year here?

Sam: “Just the same thing everyone has been telling me the past four years, shoot the ball more. I’m going to try and do that more this year.”

Q: What enters into your mind on shooting and improving your game and how you’ll do that better?

Sam: “Usually I’m a perfectionist and will shoot if I’m wide open, and need to change my mindset as soon as I’m open to just shoot, which usually isn’t my mindset. I’m just going to try and play a bit more relaxed this year and not worry about stats and percentages and just go out there and do my thing.”

For the complete interview with Steve & Jay on Eye on the Ball visit: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/1248-eye-on-the-ball-70788317/episode/eye-on-the-ball-wednesday-82476989/

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