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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Connecticut Sun's Thomas' generosity benefitting UConn commit

I couldn't help but be struck by the irony that Connecticut Sun star Alyssa Thomas sponsors an AAU team featuring UConn commit Kyla Irwin especially since three of the 15 losses Thomas' Maryland team suffered in her final two collegiate seasons came at the hands of the Huskies.

The Alyssa Thomas Elite team, led by Irwin, won the 17-and-under title at the 14th annual United States Junior Nationals Hershey National Showcase. So after last night's Connecticut Sun game I was wrapping up an interview with Thomas and asked her how she came to sponsor an AAU team and especially one with a star eventually headed to UConn.

She said it is one of the benefits from her being sponsored by Under Armour.

"We get an allotment of gear and we are able to sponsor a team so I tried to sponsor a local team," Thomas said. "It is an organization my parents run and they are doing really well this year."

Thomas' father Bobby is the executive director of the Central PA Elite AAU program and her mom
Tina Klotzbeecher-Thomas is not only the organization's secretary but also the head coach of the team that Thomas sponsors and Irwin plays on.

"It is always good to give back," Thomas said. "I love to give back to the people who have supported me throughout my career. Now it is their opportunity, they are getting college exposure so hopefully they can get (opportunities) like I did."

What about Thomas, a former Maryland star, aiding in the development of a player who is part of UConn's next recruiting class?

"I know," Thomas said with a chuckle. "She is a good player. I have known her and her mom (Bethany, a former Branford resident and assistant coach on the AAU team) for a while so I am definitely happy for her."

As for Thomas, she was clearly hobbled after crashing into the basketball support after tangling up with Cappie Pondexter of the Chicago Sky in last night's game. Thomas left the game for a while, received some treatment and returned to the game drawing praise from Sun coach Anne Donovan.

"That kid who I am sure is going to be sore the next several days, she just battles," Donovan said. "(Sky rookie Betnijah) Laney is in there to play physical and try to keep her off the glass and she still comes away with six offensive boards. She kind of characterizes this team and how hard they play, they refuse to be outmatched."

Thomas downplayed the pain she might be in.

"The three days (off) is definitely going to help," Thomas said. "She put me in an awkward position and it didn't feel too good. I just tried to push through it. I have been playing with it (a sore hip) all season so I just get some rest."

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