Kathy Thomas has left Iowa

BY JACOB SHEYKO | JUNE 25, 2013 5:00 AM

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If Kathy Thomas plays college basketball next year, it will be for a team other than the Hawkeyes.

After just one season at Iowa, the Flint, Mich., native has been granted her release from the Iowa women’s basketball program, leaving her free to transfer to another school.

“I really would like to thank the coaches for the opportunity and hope they can see that I just made a basketball decision,” said Thomas. “Looking forward from here I would still like to communicate and call these guys my family.”

Most fans who followed the past Iowa women’s basketball season would recognize Thomas as a role player coming off the bench for the Hawkeyes. Few would know that just a year earlier, she was thriving on a team in the midst of its most successful season.

Thomas attended Highland Community College in Kansas following a high-school career that included two Michigan state championships. She led the Highland Scotties to a 28-4 record in her freshman season — which was, at the time, the most successful season in the history of the program.

“She was a great worker for us and a good scorer,” said Highland Coach B.J. Smith. “She was really good at getting to the basket, a really crafty scorer.”

At point guard, Thomas steered the team to a Division II District B finals appearance while averaging 22 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. She was named an National Junior College Athletics Association first team All-American in the process.

Thomas transferred to Iowa to play basketball for head coach Lisa Bluder and the Hawkeyes after that successful season.

But as a Hawkeye, Thomas had to adjust to a new role. She had limited playing time and a smaller role than what she was used to, seeing the floor for just over six minutes per contest.

Thomas saw that things weren’t going to change as the season progressed. At the conclusion of her sophomore year, she asked for and was granted her release.

“It’s just really a basketball decision that I had to make for my future,” said Thomas. “Staying here limited me in some aspects.”

Iowa women’s basketball assistant coach Jan Jensen said the coaching staff met with Thomas for a meeting in which they spoke with her about the pros and cons of the situation.

“You try to arm them with as much information as you can before they make a decision like that,” Jensen said. “We had a good meeting, and at the end of the day she was looking to try to be closer to home and in a situation where she could maybe play more. We wish her well.”

Thomas is unsure of what school she will transfer to, but said she is looking for a place where she will play right away and feel like family. She added that at this point, her options are open given the recent nature of her release.

Thomas will find herself in a situation that has become familiar next season. She will suit up for a new team in a different city for the third year in a row. Until then, she hopes to take advantage of her final opportunity to compete with and against her teammates during the Game Time League in North Liberty.

Prior to the start of the summer league, Thomas asked her teammates if they would feel weird playing alongside her in light of her situation.

“All of them said no, and they accept me as their sister, and I still accept them,” she said.  “My plan is to spend as much time with them as possible before I leave.”

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