NCAA Tournament a family affair

Thames, Jay
Jay Thames

Making the NCAA Tournament is an exciting event for any college basketball player, but for Temple freshman center Natasha Thames, the NCAAs are a family affair. As Natasha Thames made her Tournament debut with the women’s basketball team in last Sunday’s win against James Madison in Norfolk, Va., her older brother Jay Thames, a redshirt freshman forward for Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Mich., made his Tournament debut last Friday against Pittsburgh in Milwaukee.

“It’s exciting for us to be in the Tournament for the first time, and it’s great that we’re both in it at the same time,” Jay Thames said.

Jay Thames and Natasha Thames are the oldest two in a family of eight children who grew up in Port Huron, Mich.

“There was never a dull moment,” Jay Thames said. “It was always exciting, but there was a lot of fighting and a lot going on at the same time.”

“It was nice,” Natasha Thames said in an interview earlier this season. “We all played basketball. We all used to go to the park and play. Having a big family is fun.”

Natasha Thames

Because of the distance between Norfolk and Milwaukee and the fact that Jay’s and Natasha’s games were within days of each other, the Thames family had to split up.

“My family that’s from the Virginia, Maryland, [Washington] D.C. area is going to my game, and my family in Michigan is going to his game,” Natasha Thames said.

If the two siblings went head-to-head on the court, Jay Thames confidently said he would come out the winner.

“I get asked that a lot,” Jay Thames said. “Everyone knows if we went one-on-one, it would be me.”

“Last time we played one-on-one, it was a close game, but he won,” Natasha Thames added.

While the older Jay Thames may have the edge one-on-one, the younger Natasha Thames has advanced further in the Tournament this year than her brother.

Jay Thames and the Golden Grizzlies went down 89-66 to Pittsburgh in the first round. Natasha Thames and the Owls defeated James Madison, 65-53, last Sunday. They face Connecticut tonight at 7 p.m.

Brian Dzenis can be reached at

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