Top recruit's mom backs Isiah Thomas

Florida International coach Isiah Thomas won't officially be consulting for the Knicks after all, and the whole episode hasn't exactly earned him a lot of positive press.

But before giving up the Knicks gig, the New York Times did report that there does remain a staunch Thomas supporter out there, and she happens to be the mother of one of the best point guard recruits in the nation.

Josiah Turner is ESPNU's fourth-ranked point guard for the 2011 class, and it can't hurt Thomas that Turner's mother, Doris Ward, is saying great things about him as both a recruiter and mentor.

"Isiah saw Josiah before the rest of them jumped on board this year," Ward said Sunday during a phone interview. "He never strayed either way. Whether Josiah played great or he had an off-day, he's always said he's going to be a great player."

She added: "He saw stuff in Josiah that now everyone else sees it a year later, but he saw it a year earlier. I have to respect him for that because he's never wavered."


Ward said that in many ways, the sum of Thomas’s résumé -- the missteps to giant steps and the foibles -- made him a great mentor. "Coach Thomas doesn't need money, he doesn't have to coach F.I.U., he doesn't have to do what he does," she said. "He doesn't have to come see my son practice. Just the trials and tribulations he's lived through, as a player and as a man, you can't help but respect this guy."

Not that FIU is likely to land Turner, who is considering schools like Kansas, UConn and Arizona, but his mom's comments do provide a look into Thomas' abilities as a college coach.

His name alone was always going to draw attention, but if he's actively identifying talent and building relationships with top recruits, that's certainly a different picture than being cast as a guy simply lying in wait for his next NBA job.