Archive for Sunday, June 30, 2002

Ex-Jayhawks Thomas, Woodberry mull future

June 30, 2002


While Drew Gooden was cementing his future last Wednesday night via the NBA draft, two former Jayhawks contemplated their potential basketball plans in the friendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse.

Billy Thomas, who is coming off a championship season with the Greenville Groove in the NBA Developmental League, still wants to make it to the pro show, while Steve Woodberry is enjoying the game oversees.

"It was really good to me," the 6-foot-4 Thomas said of his past season's NBDL experience, in which he was the league's scoring leader during the playoffs with 24 points per game. "It gave me the opportunity to put myself back on the basketball map."

To find Woodberry's most recent success, one also would need a map because the former Wichita South standout played overseas last season in Lithuania.

"I'm still living my dream of playing professional basketball," said Woodberry, who was an all-star for his team, Zalgiris Kaunas.

Woodberry, who ranks in the top 25 of all-time Jayhawk scorers, was the third-leading scorer and rebounder for Zalgiris this season and he led the team in assists.

But after two stellar years with Zalgiris, including being voted the "top import player" during the 2000-01 ZKL season, Woodberry is hoping to catch on in either Spain or Italy next season.

"It's mostly a finesse game over there, not too much contact unless it's by American players," said the 6-foot-4 Woodberry known for his clutch shooting and silky-smooth drives during his KU playing days from 1991-94.

What Woodberry finds odd is that while he's trying to make money overseas, a large influx of foreign players are trying to make it in the U.S.

"Hey, I'm trying to get my money just like they are," Woodberry said with a smile. "I sure don't have a problem taking some of theirs."

Until recently, Shreveport, La., native Thomas much like Woodberry was also making a world-wide basketball tour with stints in Argentina and the Philippines.

"Yeah, the last few years I've been globetrotting," he said. "But the last two weeks I've been participating in different NBA camps. I've been in Toronto and I just got back from Miami."

Thomas, who graduated in 1998, is hoping that his most recent success in the NBDL will help him get a free-agent contract with an NBA team.

"I'm just been trying to get myself seen by as many teams as I can," he said. "I'm trying to reach that ultimate dream of mine of playing in the NBA."

Thomas, who had success in Salina with the Kansas Cagerz, has upcoming workouts with the Indiana Pacers and New Jersey Nets, but he said Wednesday was a time to enjoy the atmosphere of his old school.

"I'm confident that I'm working hard and hope that the right teams will get a chance to see me," Thomas said. "I know I've been blessed with the opportunity."

Woodberry lives in Lawrence during the offseason.

"It's nice to see everyone back in the area, and to be a part of something this special," he said of KU basketball.

And despite the few loose ends surrounding his and Thomas' immediate futures, Woodberry said another Jayhawk had a pretty good night for himself Wednesday.

"He's (Gooden) tremendously talented. I think he'll have a great chance at success in the NBA," Woodberry said before walking away to greet a few waiting fans.

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