The BNZ Kāhu are delighted to announce IImar’I Thomas as their first overseas signing for the 2023 Tauihi Aotearoa season.
The 23-year-old Thomas enjoyed a standout collegiate career playing over 150 NCAA Division I games
The 178cm power forward spent 4 years at the University of Cincinnati and an additional year at UCLA where she averaged 15.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for the Bruins in the powerful Pac-12 conference.
That season (2021-22) Thomas was also 1st in offensive rebounds (2.8pg), 3rd in field goal percentage (55.4%) and 5th in minutes played (33.5 per game) in the Pac-12.
Thomas is naturally proud of her collegiate basketball achievements that included her being named American Athletic Conference Player of the Year in her final year at Cincinnati. She finished at Cincinnati as the only player in school history to achieve more than 1,900 career points and 800 career rebounds.
“The highlights of my college career would be making history at the University of Cincinnati. My team made it to the conference championship for the first time in over 15 years in my junior year.
“Also at a personal level getting player of the year in my conference in my senior year, as well as having a 51-point game!”
She is the only women’s player and just the second in the University of Cincinnati history besides the legendary Oscar Robertson to score 50 or more points in a game.
The Oakland, California native comes strongly recommended by fellow Kāhu player Akiene-Tera Reed as the two have played against each other in the Pac 12 Conference and the Finnish League. It was the first overseas professional assignment for Thomas who, playing for league runners-up Torpan Pojat Helsinki, led the scoring in the competition averaging 26.8ppg.
“IImar’I is a post player - I love her game she can score outside or inside and can finish really well.
“She’s very professional – really chilled and a good person who will be here to do the business and I’m really pleased she is joining us.
“I think she’ll be a really good addition to our team.”
For her part IImar’I is looking forward to a new challenge in a part of the world she has never visited.
“My major reasons for signing with Kāhu are exploring a new country and getting a chance to play with great players and competing for a championship.
“I know that I’ll be surrounded by competitive players and coaches, which was a big thing for me as well.
Reiterating Tera’s comments IImar’I says she can play inside or out and believes she has the skills to compliment her teammates.
“I would describe my game as versatile, I can play inside and out. I try my best to impact the game in more ways the one as well as playing off my teammates. I think the game through and use my basketball IQ to help the team win.”
Her season in Finland was her first professional assignment and proved to be very successful.
“My experience in Finland was definitely one I was grateful for. I was surrounded by amazing people and my team was able to have a successful season. It was a nice transition for me from college to professional basketball.”
Now she heads to New Zealand for her second professional assignment.
“I am excited to visit a new country and explore the culture as well as getting to know new people,” she concluded.
We at Northern Kāhu are looking forward to getting to know IImar’I!