The other day I popped into one of our radio station studios to offer my assistance to a co-worker when I noticed a signed, framed photo of the 09-10 Washington State University men’s basketball team. To the right of it was a signed, framed printout of a news story about a “serial pooper,” but that’s neither here nor there.
So back to the WSU basketball photo. When I saw the year on the picture, I started scanning frantically until I saw what I was searching for: Klay Thompson’s signature. What a cool find, right? It’s not uncommon to find this kind of memorabilia hanging on the walls of radio stations. There are a ton of “Thank You” gifts from musicians, sports teams, and more. But what’s so cool about finding a signed photo of the 2009-10 WSU Cougars basketball team?
19 players have been drafted to the NBA from WSU.
WSU is a smaller school in terms of athletic legacy. The school has had its glories, sure. But WSU is not like USC when it comes to football and it’s not Duke when it comes to basketball. The best college basketball team in the state for years has been Gonzaga. The University of Washington has had more success than the Cougs in football, like when they made the College Football Playoff in 2016. A total of 19 former Cougs have been drafted by NBA teams and Klay Thompson is by far the greatest, in terms of professional career.
Klay Thompson holds the record for most three-pointers made in a game with 14.
Paired with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson has been one-half of what is considered to be the greatest backcourt in NBA history. Curry is widely regarded to be the greatest shooter in league history but it’s Klay Thompson that has the “sexy” shooting records. He holds the record for most three-point makes in a regular season game with 14. He used to hold the record for most threes made in a playoff game. He holds the record for most points scored in a quarter with 37. He shares the record for most threes made in a single playoff campaign with Curry. I’m sure someone would shoot me down if I declared Klay the second-greatest shooter in league history since everyone has their favorites. But for each season Curry led the league in three-pointers, Klay was usually second.
Klay Thompson is a four-time champion and has time to add more rings.
The Celtics ruled the sixties, the Lakers and Celtics ran the seventies and eighties, the Bulls reigned over the nineties, the Lakers dominated the early 2000s, and the Warriors were the dynasty of the 2010s. But here’s the thing – they’re not done yet. The Warriors are defending champs this season and with the core intact with an infusion of young talent, they could win at least one more. But they couldn’t do it without Klay.
Klay Thompson will be a Hall of Famer and might be the greatest Cougar of all time.
Look, WSU has had talent come through its ranks that saw professional success. Drew Bledsoe comes to mind as does the mighty Mel Hein, but I think by the time Klay is done he will have ascended the Cougar mountain.
The Greatest Athletes in Washington & Oregon History
Whether they were born here, grew up here, went to college here, or played professionally here, these are the athletes you can’t forget if you’re from the Pacific Northwest.