Because of an injury to starter Nia Jackson, Thomas has started the past three games for the Ducks. She was held to five points in a 75-48 loss to UCLA last Thursday but bounced back with a team-high 16 points in an 85-63 loss to USC two days later. In her first start, Thomas scored 19 points and had six assists in a 96-90 loss to Washington State. She made 6 of 10 shots from the field, including 2 of 4 from three-point range.
"I could not have asked for or gotten a better start from a freshman," Oregon coach Paul Westhead told the Register-Guard in Eugene. "Especially a point guard."
Next week, Thomas and the Ducks will visit Northern California. They play at Cal on Thursday. On Saturday, they visit Stanford and former Oak Ridge star Sara James.
Last spring, Thomas was a first-team All-Metro pick and became the first scholarship girls basketball player in McClatchy history. She led the Sac-Joaquin Section in scoring (25.9 points per game) and was the Lions' leader in rebounds (7.7), assists (4.6) and steals (3.3).
- Jeff Caraska
Photo caption: Ariel Thomas is finding success as a freshman at Oregon. She was a first-team All-Metro pick last season. (Andy Alfaroemail@example.com)