Isaiah Thomas, Paige Mackenzie and Krista Vansant dominated their sports when they were student-athletes at the University of Washington. And now they will take their rightful place with four other former student-athletes and one coach in the Husky Hall of Fame.
A dazzling left-handed 5-foot, 9-inch guard from Tacoma, Thomas had a motor that just wouldn’t quit. He was twice named first-team All-Pac-10 (2010 and 2011) and MVP of the Pac-10 Tournament (2010 and 2011), as well as 2009 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and second-team All-Pac-10. His buzzer-beater in the 2011 Pac-10 Tournament championship against Arizona is a play Husky fans everywhere still remember.
With 1,721 points, Thomas ranks eighth on the UW’s all-time scoring list. He went on to play 11 years in the NBA, where he was a two-time NBA All-Star and once averaged 28.9 points per game in a season with the Celtics. His Husky jersey was retired in 2018.
Vansant, ’15, a four-year letter winner from Redlands, California, is the most decorated volleyball player ever to come out of the UW. She won the Honda Award as the national player of the year for two consecutive seasons and also was named the ESPNW National Player of the Year.
She led the Huskies to the 2013 NCAA Final Four and a Pac-12 title on the way to being named the AVCA National Player of the Year. The 2013 and 2014 Pac-12 Player of the Year, Vansant also was a star in the classroom, being named the 2014 Capital One All-American of the Year to go with First Team Academic All-America honors. She had her jersey retired in 2019 and remains the UW career leader in kills.
The Yakima-born Mackenzie, ’06, was a four-year letter winner who finished her senior year ranked the No. 1 amateur in the nation by Golf Week. One of the most dominant woman golfers in UW history, she was a three-time first team All-Pac-10 selection (2004-2006) and was named to the Pac-10 All-Academic team four times.
She finished her UW career first on UW’s all-time list with 22 top-10 finishes and played 139 career collegiate rounds, most in UW history at the time. She was also one of eight women selected to represent the U.S. in the 2006 Curtis Cup and finished the 2006 season with a 72.79 stroke average, breaking her own UW single-season record of 73.7. Mackenzie was the 2005 PNGA Player of the Year and finished 13th at the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open.
Ryan Brown, ’07, ’18, was the best 800-meter runner in UW history. The four-year letter winner from Renton won the NCAA Outdoor 800-meter championship in 2006 and the NCAA Indoor 800-meter championship in 2007. He earned nine All-America honors and was awarded the 2007 Tom Hansen Conference Medal for the UW.
He was also part of the record-setting UW 4×400 relay team, which placed third at the 2006 NCAA Indoor Championships. He later competed professionally for Asics and made Team USA for the 2009 World Track Championships in Berlin.
Softball shortstop and second baseman Ashley Charters, ’09, became the program’s fifth-ever three-time All-American (2006-2007, 2009) in addition to being named a three-time All-Pacific-Region and four-time All-Pac-10 honoree. She was named to two Women’s College World Series All-Tournament teams (2007 and 2009, when the Huskies won the national title).
The 2009 Tom Hansen Conference Medal winner for the UW, she finished her career with UW records for stolen bases (133) and was third all-time in hits (315) and second in batting average (.396.) She also played two years with Team USA from 2009-2010 before playing in the National Fastpitch League from 2011-2013.
Steve Pelluer, ’85, was the starting quarterback in the 1982 Rose Bowl, in which the Huskies defeated Iowa 28-0. The three-year letter winner from Bellevue received numerous honors in 1983; he was named to the All-Pac-10 team and took home the Guy Flaherty Award, Pete Gross Player of the Year and the Tom Hansen Conference Medal for the UW.
After the UW, he spent eight years in the NFL, playing for the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs. His son Zeke played tight end for the Huskies from 2019-2022.
Cody Pickett, ’10, was one of the most prolific passers in Husky history, finishing with 9,949 yards (fourth in Pac-10 history) and 55 touchdown passes (fifth in Pac-10 history). When he graduated, his career passage yardage was 4,000 more than the next closest UW quarterback.
In a conference known for outstanding quarterback play, Pickett was the first Pac-10 quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a single season. At the end of his UW career, he owned seven of the top 10 UW single-game passing records. He was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL.
Jim Smith was a legend in the sport of wrestling and served as coach of the Husky wrestling team from 1967 to 1975. He led the Huskies to Pac-8 championships in 1971, 1972 and 1974. He coached his teams to top-10 finishes in the NCAA championships six straight seasons, with a top finish of fourth in 1972.
In nine years of collegiate coaching, Smith produced 16 All-Americans, including Washington’s two NCAA individual champions: Larry Owings and Bill Murdock. He was inducted into the Washington Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2019 for “Lifetime Service to Wrestling.”
Pictured at top: (Top row, from left) Paige Mackenzie, Cody Pickett, Steve Pelluer; (bottom row, from left) Ryan Brown, Krista Vansant, Ashley Charters and Isaiah Thomas.