Former Arizona women’s basketball standout Sam Thomas is not ready to give up basketball yet. Thomas has exhausted her NCAA eligibility after spending five years with the Wildcats, but she’s now hoping to take a step into the professional ranks. Step one of that process is the 2022 WNBA Draft.
During the season, Thomas said she was thinking ahead, but she didn't want to think about it too much because she wanted to live in the moment.
“I’m definitely keeping my options open,” Thomas said ahead of senior day in February. “I haven’t really thought a lot about it just because I want to soak in all the moments that I have here, but definitely whatever opportunities are presented, whether it’s WNBA or overseas, I definitely would love to play after college. So whichever happens.”
She was getting advice from former teammate Dominique McBryde about what to expect if Europe was her destination. McBryde has spent the past two seasons playing in Hungary and Greece.
“I talk to Dominique a lot, so just getting her perspective on what it’s like,” Thomas said. “Preparing myself. Packing a suitcase full of snacks so when I go over there possibly I have stuff that I know. I definitely want to play at the next level whichever that is.”
Her coach was looking ahead toward those possibilities in midseason, as well.
“I think she can go play pro,” Arizona head coach Adia Barnes said in February. “Maybe WNBA, maybe overseas, but she can do that and travel the world a little bit, make money doing it.”
Thomas is one of 10 former Pac-12 players listed on the WNBA’s final list of 108 candidates for this year’s draft. It does not necessarily include all prospects being considered, though. Some international players and some of the players who have exhausted their NCAA eligibility are not listed but can still be selected by WNBA teams.
The draft consists of three rounds of 12 picks. If that sounds like it makes it a longshot to be selected, it’s because it does. Even those players who are selected will have a difficult time making rosters.
Arizona had two players taken in last year’s draft. Guard Aari McDonald was selected third overall by the Atlanta Dream. Forward Trinity Baptiste was selected 24th by the Indiana Fever. While McDonald spent the season with the Dream and has spent the offseason doing public appearances for the team, Baptiste was cut from the Fever’s roster before the season.
Baptiste is a prime example of how being cut from a WNBA team is not the end of the road. She signed a contract with the Russian club BC Samara and played for most of the season. She opted to come home after the invasion of Ukraine in February.
The other Pac-12 players in the draft are Natalie Chou (UCLA), Mya Hollingshed (Colorado), Chantel Horvat (UCLA), Lexie Hull (Stanford), Nancy Mulkey (Washington), Jaelynn Penn (UCLA), Nyara Sabally (Oregon), Imar’I Thomas (UCLA), and Anna Wilson (Stanford).
The draft will be held on April 11 at 4 p.m. MST/PDT. It will air on ESPN.