It is real. sam thomas is a basketball pro. The former Arizona winger made his debut with the Phoenix Mercury in a preseason game against the Seattle Storm on Thursday night. The Mercury lost to the Storm 82-78, but that’s not what preseason is about anyway. It’s about getting ready.
“I was very nervous,” said Thomas. “It was probably the most nervous I’ve had since the national championship game. i freaked out I was so scared I went out there and took my first shot and as I walked my whole body was just tense. I was so scared But I spoke to Diana (Taurasi) and said, ‘I’m so nervous.’ She said, ‘Just run fast, run hard and rebound. All you have to do is the little things, and they’ll get on your nerves.’ So this is exactly what I was trying to do. And then I knew when I was ready for the shots to hit them and just do my job. So I just tried to focus on my job and what I can do and what I can control.”
However, it wasn’t just a debut. Just weeks after being announced as part of the final starting lineup for the Wildcats season at the McKale Center, she was announced as a starter at the Footprint Center alongside game greats such as Tina Karl and Skylar Diggins Smith. Were on the other side of the court Sue Vogel and Breanna Stewart.
“I was kind of expecting to get here, maybe to see the first few minutes, to see the stars, but of course with overseas and only some people playing limited minutes I got the start so it was very nerve wracking ,” Thomas said. “But it was fun. I have to calm my nerves in the first few minutes and then settle in a bit.”
And Thomas did her job and took full advantage of the opportunity that was presented to her. She played a team high for 27 minutes. She went 3-on-3 from long range and finished the night with nine points and a rebound. She also made some good first impressions with the people she needed to impress.
“I was really impressed with Sam Thomas,” Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygard called. “Really stepping up, making big plays. I wasn’t sure what would happen. I yelled at her. I said, ‘Do a play!’ And she did a play.”
The Mercury have another opportunity for Thomas to impress their coaches before they have to trim the roster to 12 or fewer. The team plays the Los Angeles Sparks on April 30th. Sometime before May 6th, Thomas will find out if she can don the Phoenix uniform again and officially represent her voting state on a professional level.
The Mercury have a list of 18 in storage. You must reduce that to 12 or fewer by May 6th. You must also come under the salary cap. The team will keep some players who will not play. Kia nurse is injured and will be out for the whole year.
Brittney Griner is currently detained in Russia, where she was arrested for allegedly carrying vape cartridges containing a certain amount of hash oil. When or if she will return this season is anyone’s guess, as is her salary counting toward Mercury’s salary cap.
All of these things will affect whether Thomas can get a roster spot. If she gets one of those coveted 144 WNBA squad positions, she will sign a $60,471 contract.
not how Ari McDonald, who was a lottery pick last year and has been hailed as a future WNBA star leaving Arizona, Thomas was not called up. Her ability to step in, manage nerves and do something she hasn’t always done in Arizona — score — was a great demonstration of what she can do. They also considered others because Thomas represented more than himself on Thursday night. She represented Arizona.
“Adia has done a great job with this program and Sam is a great reflection of that,” said Nygaard.
Now Thomas is going back to the practice and is hoping for good news.