Guard Isaiah Thomas, The Seattle Times Class 4A State Player of the Year last season, is leaving Curtis High School later this month to spend the rest of his senior basketball season at a prep school in Connecticut, with an eye toward joining the Washington Huskies next fall.
Thomas said Friday night that he will leave Nov. 23 for South Kent School in South Kent, Conn. He said he plans to play his senior season there, and hopes to sign with the Huskies in April and enroll at UW next fall.
South Kent's roster also includes forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who signed a letter-of-intent with UW earlier this week and will become a Husky next season.
Thomas said he is leaving Curtis in University Place for South Kent to clear up some academic issues that will enable him to join the Huskies next season.
Thomas, a 5-foot-9 guard, was rumored to be having academic difficulties that might leave him ineligible this season.
Thomas said he would have been eligible to play this year at Curtis, but said attending South Kent will smooth over some previous academic difficulties.
"There were just some things that happened in the past that would have made it hard to make it into UW staying at Curtis,'' he said. "So I had to leave and get further help going to a prep school this year so I could improve my academic situation."
Thomas said he is taking this route so he can become a Husky. He gave a verbal commitment to UW last April.
"I want to be a Husky and I'm going to do whatever it takes to be one,'' he said.
Thomas got to know Bryan-Amaning, a 6-9 forward, during the recruiting process, which helped him settle on attending South Kent. He said the two talk at least once a week.
"I just had to get away and do what's best for me," Thomas added, saying he has talked with UW coaches about his plans and they are in support. "I just had to get out of here and settle down and really work on school."
Thomas averaged 31.6 points a game last year as a junior at Curtis, and sscored set a 4A tournament record with 51 points. He was widely considered the best high-school prospect in the state this year. He committed to UW last April after also considering UCLA, Kentucky and Georgetown.
Earlier this week he was named the No. 10 prospect in the Long Beach Press-Telegram's annual Best in the West poll.
He called leaving Curtis "very hard."
"I wanted to stay here and try to win a state championship and be the player of the year in the state of Washington,'' Thomas said. "It's hard to leave home at 17 years old. But in the long run, this will prepare me to be more mature and grow up faster and learn a lot about myself without my parents helping me. You've got to sacrifice now to succeed later is what my dad always tells me."
If Thomas signs in April, it will give Washington four freshmen in its class of 2007. The Huskies also signed forwards Justin Holiday of Chatsworth, Calif., and Darnell Gant of Los Angeles, along with Bryan-Amaning.
UW coaches cannot comment on Thomas until he signs a letter.