Average to Savage
Average to Savage

Episode · 1 year ago

Jasmine Thomas | Average To Savage EP124

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This is the one hundred and twenty-fourth episode of the Average to Savage podcast featuring Connecticut Sun guard Jasmine Thomas. Paul Guarino talked with Jasmine Thomas discussing her time at Duke, playing in the WNBA, and her goal to win a championship. Follow Jasmine Thomashttps://www.instagram.com/jaszthomas/This podcast interview with Jasmine Thomas was originally recorded on May 17, 2021

This is the Average to Savage podcast with paul Guerrino. Everyone in anyone athletes, celebs and much more. What's up everybody? I'm back for another episode of the average Savage podcasts. Our special guest today is Jasmine, thomas, jasmine, how's it going? It's good getting settled back in Connecticut tired, but yeah, no, I know you just got back from Turkey and you guys want over there. Uh, just tell me, tell me a little bit about that. Um, I mean it was a crazy season, but in the Turkish league we went undefeated. So it was pretty much expected that we would win, but we didn't expect to be hit with Covid um in the last month of the season. So right before your league final for myself and a few other players had Covid. So it was it was a rocky and then kind of a all came full circle felt good to win. Yeah, for sure. What was your record and you said you got how many wins? 34. 34. No. And it was great. It was there any close games or you guys were you guys nervous like during the season, I mean? No, I don't think so. There were a few close games, but during the season it's just kinda hard because every night, so like every couple of months it was a yearly bubble, you know, so you play Turkish league games like boom, boom, boom. And then the league would just stop and you go to the early bubble. So it was more so trying to stay healthy because you really like get up for the early games, you're playing against the best players and you know, all of europe and the foreigners from the States W. B. A. Come over. So those games are more important. So once that was done it was like okay, like we just need to get these few playoff games over with and and win this championship. Yeah, for sure. Alright, let's just go back in time. Like what's your first memory of picking up a basketball? First memory picking up a basketball? Um It wasn't like a competitive one. I feel like I used to just get, you know, dragged around to different gyms following my brother. My brother played football and basketball, but only in high school, he didn't play after that. But I would just travel around to the games and I'd be running around not paying any attention. And I want to say the first time I probably touched the ball, I was on the baseline, like running around with all the other little siblings and it just came out of balance to me and I'm like, here you go rough, like that's just it. Um And then something just clicked like, I don't know, I probably was like eight then, but like two years later I was like, I think I want to play. You know like why, why aren't any girls playing? Like I really wasn't around women playing. I wasn't exposed to it that much. So I just, you know, started feeling like it was something I wanted to do. Yeah. And then what I was just speaking to that point, did you like, when did you know, there was like a W. N. B. A? Not until I was well into play. I probably was like, Who knows? I would say it 10. Like I knew, you know, but I wasn't following, I wasn't like, you know, really recognizing players, having a favorite player, like whatever. But by the time I was like 12 I was like, okay, this is, this is cool, this is what I want to do, this is, you know, I enjoyed watching the games. You know, the Mystics had, that's my hometown team, They had good like attendance every season. There was uh, I can't remember what year, but there was an all star game. I went to that and I was just like, you know, I finally really fell in love with basketball around that age. Gosh, and I know, uh congrats, I know you just got um inducted into the Hall of Fame in your high school. Um and you grew up in Virginia. Um Then tell me like what the recruiting process was like for you, I feel like pretty typical of like top 20 prospects. So, you know, you do for me, Au circuit was how I got all my exposure, at least. That's how I felt. Um Like high school, even though like the D. M. V. Area is...

...super competitive. Everybody, you know, they knew about me, we were playing against a lot of competition. I feel like I played in front of the, you know, top college coaches through the AU circuit. So I was on a good team, good travel team had like Nike sponsorship, big tournaments played well and letters just started coming in. Um I didn't do any of the camps because some of them were like the camp letters coming elite camp. Like we, you know, we want to see you want to get you on the campus. But I just was like, whoa, like it's crazy how it just goes from like a hobby. It's fun. I'm meeting friends. Like we're traveling, you know, going places I would never go because of basketball to like I can go to college and like really make a living for myself through this. Yeah, for sure. And then, and then what made you pick Duke, my official visit is really what put the stamp on it. But um I follow Duke the most. I was a fan of the Elena Beard. The money curry Lindsay hardened. I really saw um a lot of myself in their system through Lindsay Harden. I was a huge fan of coach G coach K. I love Duke men's basketball and you know, it's kind of like my dream school. Um It was between them Maryland which is a team, you know, close to home was there was a lot of 80 tournaments at Maryland, went to a lot of Maryland games. Um U. V. A. Was close to home and UConn was another one that was on my list. And once I went on that official visit to Duke, I just knew this is where I'm supposed to be. Yeah. That's awesome. Now, what now, what is that like to actually go to your dream school? Well, it was cool because they had like, as soon as I got on campus for the visit, like JJ Reddick and coach K kind of like, we're like welcome. Like the welcome was with them. Um, and I thought that was kind of cool because those were the, you know, the, at least JJ Reddick for sure. On the men's side. I was a fan of him. And I remember he was like, I went to there, uh, N C double A game or maybe it's a C. C tournament, but it was at the M. C. I center at the time in D. C. Against Georgia Tech. And I remembered like that moment, so meeting him and being around him with school. But um, I don't know, it's just do have such a big name that I think people think it's like this huge school with like a lot of people and you know, it's this small, I am in private school where everyone knows everyone. I feel like what 6000 is like the undergrad. So when I got there, I was just like a little bit overwhelmed with how like the architecture, the like everybody just really being all four basketball, like the students, while they're extremely intelligent, obviously they really are there for the basketball experience too. And that's just a good thing to feel a part of. Yeah, for sure. I, I didn't, to be honest, I didn't even realize it until a few years ago that like Duke was that small, like, uh, so that's cool. Um and then like, what, what was your overall experience? Like I do like on and off the court um on the corner is pretty good. I wasn't I could have gone further in the tournament. I feel like that was I mean it's the hardest tournament to advancing but I feel like getting hit at the elite eight twice in a row. Um I wanted to make it to the final four so that was tough. But um A. C. C. Championships, the uh Duke unC rivalries uh You know the Maryland game became a rivalry after the loss in uh the tournament years years back. So those games they were just there's nothing like that feeling especially in Cameron like the on court experiences. Everything you ever all the resources. Like I love my teammates. Everything was just it's perfect um Off like busy. Like I feel like you know trying to prioritize school and Duke was hard and I'm like serious about school in the classroom. So I feel like I really was staying up late night studying and making sure I...

...was doing my assignments are trying to get things done before we went on the road. Um, but it was cool hanging out with like, you know, the other men's basketball, other sports kind of like everywhere, athletes, you know, a lot of similar lifestyle hang out a lot together. Um, in summer school with school, I love being at school. It was only athletes. The class, the workload was in the classroom was less. Um, and the weather was good. North Carolina is hot as hell in the summer. So I don't know if I ever heard anyone say summer school is school. Exactly. But trust me, trust me as more athletes about summer school, the conditioning and all that stuff. Yeah, it's tough, but you're pretty much free. You know, you get to, and as of what you're 18 to 21 year old, you know it's cool you away from home you get to live off campus and kind of have this like pre adult life. It was fun. Yeah. Well I can tell you well actually before all this pandemic I was back in school 2010-2014 and I did some summer classes like online so those were dope because the teachers didn't really pay attention to it. So that was cool. I mean that's the same though like even when you're going to get so much more laid back. Yeah sure. Yeah for sure. Um and then yeah just going going into after that and then entering the W. N. B. A. draft, like where did you think you were position and I know you got drafted 12th overall. Like did you think that was a good spot? You got drafted too late? Um Honestly, I never really thought much of it. I was so just like my dream literally coming true, have an opportunity to compete in this league and going in the first round in general is hard to do. So um you know, I was just grateful for the opportunity. I know my um my junior year at Duke uh productive wise, like my stats and everything and kind of how I played was better than my senior year. Um So I'm sure that affects some things, but everything worked out for me honestly and pretty good. Yeah, for sure. And then what was it like to get treated to to your hometown team? The Washington mister? Um I can't even remember like how that opportunity came up, but as soon as my agent presented it to me, I'm like, I'll take that, you know, like I said, I grew up once I finally like got hit to the W. N. B. A. Started falling in love with the game. Like the mistakes that was my team and being you know, being in D. C. Being able to play in front of my family and my friends and have them watch my dream play out. That was That was cool. It was overwhelming at times to my ticket list was like 30, 40 deep every game and I'm sure they were happy to get rid of me. Yeah. Yeah. I hear a lot about that when athletes play in their hometown. Like it's like it's obviously there's a pros and cons everything but with that with the tickets and then you have like kind of more pressure on Youtube because yeah, I mean because family and friends, you do want to be able to be like, hey, like to the game you supported me, you're part of the reason why I'm here. Like thanks for being behind me all this time. But once you start to understand the business of the game, it's like I need you all about tickets like in order for me to do what I do and for us to like really make a living and you know, you know, give the investment in the game. You got to provide tickets. I can't give everybody free tickets all the time. Yeah, for sure. So this is your 11th season correct into it? Um So what has, like what are the, what are the changes you've seen since 2011 when you answered to now in the W. N. B. A. Um I feel the biggest thing for me is like the hype around the W. Especially this season, like with the jerseys and everything, like the talent level is every year it's always better and better and better. But now like younger players marketing themselves in college when they come to the league, they have this following this fan base, they bring this excitement to the game and it's bridging, you know that that transition and I feel like that is what is definitely different from when I first got in. Um Not to mention everybody gets their own room on the road now and I'm happy about this. I...

...really am like I can't lie, I'm happy about it. But the struggle of the first five years that I had to go through with a roommate being old as hell, having a roommate on the road. That's just sucked. But um yeah the new CIA is is dope in a lot of ways it's still just a baby step first step but a lot has changed because of that. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Yeah. I feel like when you're a rookie you probably didn't really care. But then when you got older and older you're like, this is kind of weird. Yeah, I mean, but even then it's a shock like we'll probably not. I mean still, I think it is, it's a shot going from college to the w resource wise. I think it's the thing, you know, like it's not this consistent like you got private, you know, charter what you have, you know, like all this gear, all this, there's all this that like everything just kind of like handed to you. It's different in the resources that way. But um, it's better. It's better. I noticed a lot of good happening this this season. For sure. Yeah, for sure. I think a lot of people don't realize that either. Like the, I guess the casual fan you say, uh and then just going on on your on the court, your career, you've pretty much been going up every season. So like what changes basically from the first half of your career to like now, but Connecticut, I feel like maybe that's that's probably when you took off, when you trade to Connecticut. Um Yeah, I think understanding the game better, uh I think something with women's players is we don't have that developmental transition. You know, we kind of just get thrown in and it's just this raw talent that either transition is well into the game fast, especially depending on what kind of situation you go into, where, you know, you have coaches and bets that are willing to groom you that have the time that, you know, don't have the stress and the pressure on them to do. So when I went into the mistakes, I think there were six or seven rookies on our team that year, you know, it's like, that's hard, that's, it's hard to, to win in a lead like this like that. So it just took some time to kind of find myself as a pro um adjust to the game, let the game slow down. I was kind of uh known for my quickness. Everything I did was once we just fast, fast, fast and um playing overseas to I think helped uh, you know, any weaknesses that I had over here, I tried to directly work on them overseas and come back better. Didn't want to waste my time over there. Every every opportunity to play for me was a way to get better. Um you know, it's the always find something. So you know, I've never arrived. I show up to every season, like, you know, kind of with a trip on my shoulder, like I, I want to make a statement, I want to assert myself, I want to, you know, but I think that's just ultimately what it was. Get comfortable. Yeah, for sure. And then you were named also in 2017. What did that mean to you? And then a lot. Um, just the things that I had been through in my career, like you said, like being traded, um, you know, right off the rip, traded to uh, from Seattle to Washington and traded from Washington to Atlanta in Atlanta to Connecticut. Like, you know, you, you want to have a home base, you want to have a value where teams feel like they can't trade you, they want, they need you there to win. So finally finding that home in Connecticut, being able to, you know, not look over my shoulder know that I was valued here and I wanted to be here and after all that happened in my career for me to be all stars. Like, like yeah, I deserved that, you know, and I'm humbled a lot and I don't um I don't know, I don't really talk in that way a lot, but that was a big deal for the type of player that I am and things that have been said about me and the media and from team to team. Like yeah, I was the all star, not like that. And then yeah, you're named defensive, uh, first team for three years and and second team one year. Uh, so so would you like defense a lot? I mean that's...

...that is the essence of my game even from when I was a kid, like that was what was most natural for me was defense, I love to get steals, playing the open court, I love playing in transition and I just wanted the ball, like I was a nat for the ball, it was like that, that's still kind of how I am, I feel like you can't play offense without the ball so why not play defense hard and get it back, you know? So yeah, that's a lot. Uh I know uh you guys been making strong runs like the past few years, like what do you think we'll get you guys over the hump and to win the W. N. B. A. Championship? Um I mean obviously our team has changed in a lot of ways um brought in some pieces that, that are champions, you know, having to wanna Bonner, now, having Briann january, um having JJ back, you know, we just, when we were able to do last year, given the craziness of that bubble season and how our team dynamic had changed so much from the, you know, our championship are, you know, finals run uh Having JJ back is a big big deal and as you can see in our first two games like she's already kind of imprinted herself and you can see like what we were missing. Yeah, for sure. Well what are your goals this season? Um Michael this season? Uh always make the playoffs as a team goal. Um that's like the for the one thing that's always on my mind, just make playoffs, make playoffs, make playoffs because it's like a new season once you get there and everything else changes, records don't matter, it's just a different ballgame. I definitely want to win a championship this year and just individually, I mean I have to look, I'm not sure if there, if there is another All star game. I would love to be an old star again. Um I think that would be cool and just um I don't know, being efficient. I'm I'm older, you know, always gonna take that leadership role and grooming our younger players and um they're getting a lot of opportunities now and making the most of it, which is good. So just just being efficient, however much time I'm out there, I want to make sure I I stand out with my energy, my effort and and have fun. Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I feel like they should have just named all star team last year even though they didn't like just like name. So I think that people get bonuses for that. That's it. But that's probably, I don't know, that's yeah, that's kind of uh it's actually funny because I don't know if, you know it kind of just happened um where MLB kind of took what N. B. A. And W. N. B. Does and they named them like all MLB. Like they never had that last year because of so they were just like that's a new accolade. Yeah. So interesting. Have you gotten the chance to watch the documentary 1 44? Yeah, I watched it when it aired. So what were your thoughts about? Um I thought it was incredible. I think you know while we made a lot of statements and we made it know what we were playing for last summer I think to see it all come together and you know be put so clearly and it was really really really well edited and I think it captured the essence of the season. I can feel myself kind of get all the emotions that I felt going through last season, just watching it, you know, leaving home some of us not, haven't been home in our careers and haven't, you know, having that time to quarantine. Yeah, Covid sucked. But we're all of a sudden around our family's home for the first time um and then making a decision to leave that to go to a bubble that we were unsure of during times of like extreme racial injustice heightened to the extreme. It was like that was a lot to go through and we're resilient in the fact that we did it and it was like, it was up, y'all like we hear, you know, but when you really think about what we were going through and the emotional like mental aspect of it, like I don't ever want to do that again, but I'm glad we accomplished um amplifying our voices and really making a statement...

...for like social injustice, for sure. That was the goal and we did that. Yeah, definitely. And then like what advice would you give to a young athlete? Like trying to either get a scholarship or or make a pro league? Um I feel like, I don't know this is kind of typical, but like control what you can control. And I say that because that's everything. That's your energy, that's your effort. That's your your toughness, your your I. Q. Your intelligence of the game, Like every aspect that you need to be successful at the next level, no matter if you're five years old or 31 years old, like that's that's what it comes down to is all you can control is what you do and the work and the effort and the passion that you put into it. You will get out of it. Um If you get caught up on on the outcome all the time, uh, things aren't always going to go the way you want. You know, and you've got to find a way to to push through it. Stay mentally tough and and know that if you deserve it, it's gonna come for you. I like that. All right, ready for some fun questions. All right, thank you. Might know this. I'm from Connecticut. So what's your favorite thing about Connecticut? People love people from Connecticut, love to ask this question. I think that like that's the only people that ask that Yeah, this is probably going to be the cheesy answer, but the fans, I feel like Connecticut is a women's basketball state. So if you are lucky enough to play basketball here, you definitely have to support from them and now they're back in the arena, which is cool. Um Other than that in this area that we live in. I like the way we have like these little beaches scattered around here. Um I like that. Have you been to New Haven and tried the pizza though? That's what everyone having have not. You got to me, No. You're gonna come down here. Do they deliver covid? We can. Yeah. No, no. People, people are sitting outside now. Okay. I mean, I actually can't come down there honestly. I just had to do my physical and yeah. So I was even, oh, you should've stopping at some, I had to come back and get on. Oh, yes. Yeah. Yeah. I don't know. I'm not averaging triple doubles, but I love just like the grit about it. No one is doing what he's doing. I don't really like him a lot. And he's in he's in your hometown right now too. Um What about, what do you like to do in your free time freeze on every time? Pre covid? Yeah. How about pre covid? And then what what's like new hobbies you picked up during Covid? Because I mean, I think everyone kinda did pretty good, but I like to hang out with my friends whether or teammates, you know, just family, whoever. But that that's going to a bar during the day, like having food and, you know, just having a good time. I missed that. Like, you know, not having to wear a mask 24 7, you know, I missed that. But now new hobbies like home decorated and taking care of plants, cooking, baking, painting, anything you can think of? I'm trying it. I'm staying busy at the house. Yeah, for sure. Um What about, what is something people don't know about you? I would say that I would love to eat in my bed and I know that sounds crazy, but a lot of people that know me or think they know me, see me from the surface, whether it's instagram or interviews or, you know, they meet me, I'm like, well put together, I'm, you know, proper and whatever, but I have crumbs in my bed on the regular. Alright, well, that's, I mean, that's...

...funny because I don't like eating in my bed, so. Oh yeah. That Oh yeah, soon you again. Uh you got some tattoos, whatever they have. Um I have a few, like all over my body, honestly, but I got a libra symbol here, that's my zodiac sign. Um I got this piece, which is the most significant thing. Um I lost my grandma uh, to Covid earlier in the year, um had to put my first dog down. So I have a dove here for her. A couple other doves. Um For people I lost giraffe, favorite animal, uh some flour favorite flower. Kind of just put that piece together. I love it, love it, love it turned out good one started here that into that. Yeah, that's awesome piece. Thank you. Um last one I knew I forgot something. Um I know you just you literally just said it today. So um tell me about the the good game foundation. Oh, so um kind of started with a guy named Adam Miller. And as you can see if you check it out. Bennie Fowler is also part of it. Um It's basically, you know, we are starting with women's empowerment organizations, but we will just um raise awareness, provide funds to, you know, as grants to help them do their programming and make their impact. Um I don't think it's been released yet, but one of the first organizations were working with is the women's being project out of Denver um and they basically work to rehabilitate rehabilitate women after dealing with addiction. So um it's just a cool way to kind of, you know, it's a pilot program right now, we're the only two athletes involved, but we're working on expanding that and getting more people into it just to use our platforms to do what we really care about, which is making a difference in our community. Yeah, for sure. Well, I appreciate you coming on and could you let the listeners know where they can follow you at? Um you can follow me on instagram at at J. S. Z. Thomas. Um that's my handle on all platforms, honestly. So I'm one of those people that reply, So go ahead and yeah. Alright, well, again, I appreciate it. And best of luck this season. Thank you. Thanks for having me on. Mhm.

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