“With the 12th pick in the 2011 WNBA Draft, the Seattle Storm select Jasmine Thomas.”
On April 11, 2011, the high school phenom from Oakton High School in Virginia and the Duke All-American realized her basketball dream. She was a WNBA pro.
But just a few weeks into her time with the Storm, Thomas’s WNBA journey took the first of many twists of her WNBA career when she was traded to the Washington Mystics as a part of a three-team trade.
“Honestly, my agent had already informed me that the trade was on the table. I’d always dreamed of playing for my hometown WNBA team,” said Thomas. “Plus, I was a front office marketing intern for the Mystics the summer after my junior year at Duke. I was pretty excited about the trade.”
Thomas spent two seasons in a Mystics uniform, starting in 23 games in her second season. She relished the opportunity of playing in front of her family and friends. The daughter of Johnnie and Sharon Thomas, Jasmine enjoyed a decorated high school career in Virginia, earning just about every honor given to the best basketball players in the country.
Thomas led her prep squad to an eye-popping 110-11 record in four seasons, with totals of 2,598 points, 910 rebounds, 519 steals, 504 assists and 181 blocks. Her senior season, she was named Gatorade State Player of the Year, AP State Player of the Year and D.C. All-Met Player of the Year. Thomas also earned MVP accolades in the McDonald’s All-American game, tallying 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
Thomas was recruited by every major college in the country, but in true point guard fashion, had a plan of attack. She narrowed her choices to three – Duke, UConn and Virginia.
“I had huge respect for Geno and the UConn dynasty, of course; and the relationship I developed with Debbie Ryan at Virginia during recruiting was special,” reminisced Thomas. “But I was a fan of Duke women’s and men’s basketball, along with the academics. I loved watching Alana Beard, Monique Currie and Lindsey Harding, who I especially felt favored my game. Once I went on my visit, I couldn’t picture myself anywhere else. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made. That place is special.”
Thomas, a sociology major, thrived at Duke both on and off the court. She became the first Blue Devil to be named an Academic All-American on two occasions. On the court, she quickly made a name for herself as well. In four seasons, she became just one of four players to accumulate over 1,300 points, 400 rebounds, 400 assists, 200 steals and 50 blocks (Alana Beard, Monique Currie and Katie Meier). She is also one of only two Blue Devils to notch 100 steals in a season (Beard). In addition, Thomas continued to show her ability to shine on the biggest stage, twice earning ACC Tournament MVP accolades.
She was ready when her name was called on draft night. With a vicious first-step offensively and a defensive mind-set ready to meet any opponent, Thomas felt ready for the next challenge.
And challenge her, it did. After two years in Washington, the 5-9 guard was traded to the Atlanta Dream. Thomas started 29 games for the Dream, leading the squad to the WNBA Finals in 2014. It was her best season of her pro career, averaging 8.5 points, three rebounds and 3.1 assists.
Thomas saw less time for the Dream in 2015 and in the offseason, was traded to Connecticut for a second round pick.
And so there she was. The Virginia high school star, the All-American from Duke – now with her fourth WNBA team in four years.
“After being traded from my hometown team, then helping take a team to the WNBA Finals in Atlanta and STILL being traded, again; at this point, my confidence was pretty shot,” recalled Thomas. “I was on my way to an organization that was in a complete rebuild after losing Tina Charles and Coach Thibault. But this turned out to be the most significant move in my career. I’m forever grateful for the value Coach Donovan saw in me and the opportunity she gave me on the floor. She helped me find myself and regain my confidence.”
Thomas had a break-out year for the Sun in 2015. She started all 34 games and set new single-season career highs for assists (133), rebounds (127), steals (41) and blocked shots (14).
Enter Curt Miller.
Miller was hired as the Sun head coach on December 17, 2015. He knew he had the perfect point guard for his system.
“When I was named the head coach of the Sun, I was excited to have a point guard who would thrive in an up tempo system, which is the way I like to play,” said Miller. “Coming from LA as an assistant coach, I also knew she possessed tremendous leadership qualities.”
It’s been said that a great point guard is an extension of her head coach. Thomas became that for Miller and the rest, as they say, is history. Thomas led the Sun to record-setting regular seasons in 2017 and 2018, before finally breaking thru in the postseason in 2019 and advancing to the WNBA Finals, highlighted by a 29-point performance in game three of a series sweep of the LA in the WNBA Semifinals.
“Last season was incredible, but heartbreaking,” Thomas recalls. “It felt amazing making it to the Finals with a group that had absolutely become family to me and for a fan base that truly deserves a championship. Because of all that, the disappointment of falling short hurt deep. I want nothing more than to get back there and win it all and I believe we’ve put together a new team that can do just that.”
Thomas continues to improve, using her time overseas to add new dimensions to her game. She’s always been known as a relentless defender, instilling fear in ball handlers who challenge her, but Thomas has become a key offensive threat for the Sun as well. Her efforts were recognized in 2017 when she was named a WNBA All-Star.
Added Miller, “Jas is a true professional and never stops adding to her game. She’s become remarkably consistent with her three-point shooting. She grades out tremendously in the WNBA in catch and shoot situations. It makes her incredibly dangerous on both ends of the floor.”
Off the court, Thomas is a leading voice in the WNBA for the Kay Yow Foundation. Last season, she organized an event at Mohegan Sun following a home game on August 18 that raised $6,000 via a dinner, raffle and silent auction. For her efforts, Thomas earned the WNBA Community Assist Award for August.
Thomas has been passionate about finding a cure for breast cancer since her mother was diagnosed with the disease when she was at Duke.
“My mom is too important to me. I can’t imagine life without her. I don’t want anyone to feel the fear of losing someone due to cancer anymore. Teaming up with the Kay Yow Foundation has been an amazing partnership. It has given me the opportunity to share my story and have an impact on so many lives,” shared Thomas.
Thomas has found a home in Connecticut. She is the starting point guard on one of the most lethal WNBA teams headed into the 2020 season. But this Renaissance woman isn’t defined by basketball. She loves to cook, craft, blog and travel the world. This past December, she completed the Crossover to Business Program at Harvard Business School (yes, Harvard) taught by renowned Professor Anita Elberse.
“I have so many hobbies I enjoy off the court, it’s hard for me to decide exactly what I might want to do after basketball,” Thomas pondered. “I absolutely plan to stay involved with basketball (and sports), but I want to be on the business, PR, entertainment side of things.”
On April 11, 2011, Jasmine Thomas could have never imagined she’d end up wearing a Sun uniform. But she has not only survived every obstacle that’s come her way, she has thrived. As Maya Angelo said, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.”
Sounds like Jasmine Thomas. Sounds like our point guard.