Former KU sharpshooter Billy Thomas has retired from professional basketball and settled down to coach high school hoops at Barstow in Kansas City. Following a game in which Barstow won on their travels to Columbia, Missouri, Thomas said, "I told my kids — this is the only way I'm happy with being in Columbia."
I only thought I loved him when he played at Kansas. I love him more after seeing that.
The Shreveport, Louisiana native came to Lawrence in 1994 and played along side some players that made their names as all-time greats in the KU program, guys like Raef LaFrentz, Jacque Vaughn, and Scot Pollard. Billy was a backup on that 94-95 team, and his main job (as it would be for the entirety of his KU career) was to shoot threes. In fact, 126 of his 177 attempts in his freshman campaign were from behind the arc. He made threes at a clip of 39% and averaged 7.3 points per game. When you recognize that he only played 16 minutes per contest, his numbers extrapolate out quite well.
After a down sophomore season, Billy Thomas was back to canning threes at a 40% clip and averaging almost 8 points per game. Again, he only played 16 minutes per game that season, but managed to throw up 178 three pointers in that time, making 73 of them.
It wasn’t until his senior season that Billy started consistently for KU. He started 34 of 36 games and averaged almost 27 minutes per contest. With more playing time, came more opportunities to shoot three-pointers. Billy obliged by chucking 262 threes that season, making 105 for a 40% clip. To show you just how much of a jump shooter he was, Thomas only took 90 free throws in his four year KU career.
Thomas is the second most prolific scorer from behind the three-point arc in KU history behind Jeff Boschee. While Boschee scored more points and hoisted more threes in his career, Thomas has the superior percentage from downtown. The fact that Boschee arrived in Lawrence the year after Thomas graduated makes 1994-2002 the most prolific years from behind the arc in the history of KU basketball.
Here are the numbers:
Thomas: 269 for 691, 38.9%
Boschee: 338 for 943, 35.8%
Total: 607 for 1643, 36.9%
And that’s just for those two guys. Add in Jacque Vaughn, Greg Gurley, Jerod Haase, Ryan Robertson, and Kirk Hinrich to the those guys, and those eight years were probably as good as it can get for Kansas from a three-point shooting perspective.