During his second season with the Golden State Warriors, Washington State University basketball great Klay Thompson averaged 16.6 points per game in 82 games and 15.2 points in the postseason. Thompson teamed with Stephen Curry to form what Golden State Head Coach Mark Jackson called “the greatest shooting backcourt that’s ever played the game.”
During his three-year career at WSU, Thompson averaged 17.9 points per game, including 21.6 ppg in 2011, when he led the Pac-10 and ranked 11th in the nation in scoring. He is first on WSU’s all-time list in 3-point field goals made (242).
Thompson took time out from the Cougar Legends event at the Coeur d’Alene Resort to speak with Cougars Quarterly about the NBA and his memories of WSU.
CQ: Now that you’ve had a chance to reflect back on the season what comes to mind?
Klay: There were a lot of question marks because we finished 20 games under .500 last year but I knew we were going to be good because we have such a talented roster. To do what we did as a sixth seed was special and hopefully we can build on it in the future.
CQ: And certainly a big part of building on that success is the combination of you and Stephen Curry?
Klay: I feel like we got better playing off each other every month. It was a ton of fun. Hopefully we’ll be the starting backcourt for a long time in Golden State.
CQ: And Mark Jackson’s comments about the greatest shooting backcourt that's ever played the game?
Klay: I think we have the ability to be the best backcourt someday. If you look at the league right now, the best backcourt, I’m not even sure. I think we can be No. 1.
CQ: What was different during your second year in the league compared to your rookie season?
Klay: It was a comfort level. Every game was so much more meaningful because we were a playoff bound team. I’m still real young in my second year. I feel like I got better every game, but I still have a lot of room to grow.
CQ: What is it like playing in the atmosphere of Oracle Arena?
Klay: Oracle is unbelievable. Best place to play in the NBA. The playoffs were special. It was electric in there.
CQ: Does Oracle remind you of Beasley Coliseum?
Klay: Oh, yea, when UW, Gonzaga, UCLA came to town it was like the playoffs. It was almost like that every night in Oracle.
CQ: What was it like playing it front of the Beasley crowd?
Klay: It’s the best student body in the conference. You feed off that crowd. It’s so much fun playing in front of them. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We have some amazing fans. I really loved it.
CQ: What is your favorite memory from your WSU playing days?
Klay: My junior season, we ruled the state of Washington that year. We beat the Zags, and the Dawgs twice. That was my favorite memory.
CQ: How did WSU shape you?
Klay: I’ve learned to appreciate Pullman. When you leave and go to all these big cities, you appreciate having that peace and quiet. You appreciate the fans, you appreciate the community. I picked the perfect school that suited me. I really love it out there. I understand why people say that Pullman grows on you. It really grew on me. I love coming back to visit.
CQ: Lastly, what does it mean to you to be a Coug?
Klay: It’s like family, being a Cougar is like being in a family. Everyone is so friendly. There are Cougs all over the country. Every time I play in a different arena I see a Coug. It’s pretty special.