FORT MYERS, Fla. - FGCU Women’s Basketball Head Coach Karl Smesko has announced the addition of former UConn standout Mel Thomas as Director fo Basketball Operations. Thomas joins the staff at FGCU after playing professionally overseas.
“Mel’s experience both as a professional player and as a captain at UConn will be a great asset to our program,” said Smesko. “Mel was known for being a tough, smart player who could really shoot. Those are attributes we pride ourselves in our program.”
Thomas comes to FGCU after playing professional basketball for the Artego Bydgoszcz in the Polish Basketball League last season. She played for the Bausch & Lomb Waterford Wildcats in Ireland during the 2008-2009 season.
“I am very excited to join the women’s basketball program at FGCU,” said Thomas. “This is a great program with tremendous potential and I hope to be a part of the Eagles’ first run at the NCAA Tournament. I’m confident this team will continue to grow and develop under Coach Smesko and I’m thrilled to be a part of the FGCU family.”
The Cincinnati, Ohio native, who led Mount Notre Dame High School to a perfect 28-0 record and the school’s first Division I Ohio State Basketball Championship (2004), joined the UConn Huskies in 2004, where she succeeded at the highest levels both academically and athletically. Thomas was a three-time BIG EAST Academic All-Star, and is a graduate of UConn's School of Business.
Thomas was named co-captain of her team in both her junior and senior seasons. In her senior year, she played a key role in UConn winning the BIG EAST regular season and tournament championships, and in their run to the NCAA Final Four. She finished her career with 1,098 points and is currently ranked fifth in UConn history in three-pointers made with 224. In Thomas’ four years as a Huskie, the team recorded an amazing 125-19 (.868) overall record and a 58-6 (.906) record in BIG EAST Conference competition, while picking up a pair of regular season conference championships (2007 and 2008) and three conference tournament titles (2005, 2006, 2008).
After her playing days at Connecticut were over, Thomas authored a book that she used to share her love and appreciation for UConn with everyone. She kept a diary throughout her senior year which became her book, ‘Heart of a Husky’. ‘Heart of a Husky’ is a depiction of her experiences as she worked towards winning a National Championship.
Thomas was also a member of the United States Pan American Games team in the summer of 2007 when the U.S. won the gold medal for the first time since 1987.
WHAT THEY”RE SAYING ABOUT THOMAS:
“Mel Thomas will always be remembered as one of the toughest kids ever to play at UConn.”
“She is a tremendous inspiration to anyone who aspires to compete at the highest levels, in any endeavor.”
“Mel Thomas is a winner – and a great role model for kids and adults of all ages.”
- Geno Auriemma, UConn Women’s Basketball Head Coach (from the Foreword of ‘Heart of a Huskie’)