BY Todd Dybas 07:24AM 04/01/2011

Romar: ‘Isaiah has given us everything’

Isaiah Thomas’ college coach knows what he received from Thomas in three years, plus what is important for the guard to do next.

Isaiah Thomas and Washington coach Lorenzo Romar spent three years together learning their NCAA Tournament fate. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Lorenzo Romar was hoping to get to Houston for the Final Four since the beginning of the season, a scenario that would likely make Isaiah Thomas a hot topic.

Romar made it, Thomas did not, but the latter was still a big issue for Romar just prior to the Final Four.

Thomas announced Thursday that he would declare for the NBA draft and was not returning to Washington for his senior season. Romar, who has known Thomas for almost half the point guard’s life, was not shocked.

“The bottom line: Isaiah Thomas wants to play in the NBA,” Romar said. “It had now become so close to a reality to him, it’s just something he wanted to do.

“He worked as hard if not harder than anyone on our team to get better. The fact that he knows there’s a chance and he’s leaving, that doesn’t surprise me.”

Thomas said NBA people told him he could be drafted as high as the middle of the first round or into the second. Romar, a former NBA player who is connected throughout the league, said the junior guard still needs to improve his deep shooting and decision-making. Thomas’ move to point guard necessitated by Abdul Gaddy’s torn ACL in January helped expose a new part of his game. Thomas led the Pac-10 in assists.

“In terms of the NBA, he was able to showcase what he could do this year,” Romar said. “I thought he made a lot of progress and the people at the next level got to see a lot.

“If Isaiah were to choose to come back to college, it was going just to be with his guys some more and continue to try and win and he would have broken a whole lot of records, but I think in Isaiah’s case he was much more concerned with making it to that next level.”

Since Thomas arrived at Washington, he talked about moving to the NBA. Thomas hobnobs with a variety of current and former NBA players with Seattle ties: Jason Terry, Brandon Roy, Jamal Crawford, Gary Payton. He attended the summer camps of pro point guards Deron Williams and Chris Paul. In all, he feels he is ready at this point to move on. Romar knows it’s not that easy.

“You don’t really understand until you’re there,” Romar said. “It wasn’t until I was in the league I realized, ‘Wow, I’m very fortunate, because this is tough.’

“But I think he has a decent understanding that you don’t just walk in there and take a job. Things have to fall in place. I know he knows he has to overcome a lot, but he’s a believer in himself and that’s what’s made him the player he is today.”

That player is one who is yet to hire an agent, yet is adamant he will not be returning to Washington for his senior year. With the same conviction, Romar, not surprisingly, said Thomas would be welcomed back should he change his mind while going down the aisle.

“If he goes down the road and has cold feet or has even more information and something changes and all of sudden wants to come back, we’ll welcome him back,” Romar said. “Isaiah has given us everything.”

Except that senior year, which now just becomes an opportunity to wonder what he and the Huskies could have been if he returned.

“I think he could be a National Player of the Year candidate,” Romar said.

If what Thomas says is true, we’ll never know.


  • I wonder who these NBA people are that told him he would be drafted that high. Something don’t add up here… think he’s making a big mistake!

  • bhamhusky

    I.T. clearly has his best shot as a PG in the league. With Gaddy and Wrotten on the team next year there are not a lot of PG minutes for I.T.
    So, senior year might give him time to improve FT’s and Jumper, but not point guard. Is that worth coming back? Frankly, he will be a late 1st round / 2nd round pick this year or next.