Thybulle was born in Arizona, but spent seven years in Australia before moving back to the U.S. to Washington state. He developed his basketball skills a little later, but was a four-star recruit with offers from schools like Gonzaga and Oregon before choosing the University of Washington.
Thybulle spent four years with the Huskies. He started his collegiate career under Lorenzo Romar for two seasons before Romar was replaced with former Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins. Thybulle flourished in Hopkins’ zone defense, becoming two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. He also won the Lefty Driesell Award as the nation’s best defender while leading the country in steals this past season.
Thybulle was an elite defender in college. In Washington’s zone, he played like a free safety and wreaked havoc, averaging 3.2 steals and 1.9 blocks in his final two seasons. He has a reported seven-foot wingspan and is an outstanding athlete. While the zone gets some credit for the ridiculous numbers, Thybulle did average 2.4 steals and 1.2 block per 40 minutes in his first two seasons in a man-to-man scheme. He has the athletic profile and feet to guard perimeter players effectively.
He shot the ball well for the majority of his college career, hitting 35.8 percent of his threes on almost four attempts a game and 78.2 of his free throws. His experience playing four years can’t be discounted and could allow him to contribute immediately. He also seemed to understand, accept and flourish in his role as a secondary offensive option.
The defensive evaluation is a little tough. His gaudy steal and block numbers were largely a result of his rover role in the zone. He was allowed to freelance and gamble, which may produce bad habits at the next level.
While he shot decently-to-elite during his first three seasons, his three-point percentage was way down this season, falling to 30.5 percent. He doesn’t have much in the way of shot creation skills and isn’t likely to develop into a primary scoring option, so his shot-making is critical.
In their range in the mid-20s, Thybulle might actually be the best fit. He’ll need to hit shots to give them a true 3-and-D threat, but he can give them something they’ve been missing since Robert Covington left in a switchable defender that can guard ones, twos and threes. The idea of Thybulle and Zhaire Smith as two bouncy, active perimeter defenders coming off the bench is incredibly intriguing. They’ll be a nightmare in transition and if they can both hit open shots, look out.
Thybulle left the combine early and there are reports that a team may have already made him a promise. The team to connect the dots to would be the Thunder, who hold the 21st overall pick. Thybulle fits the profile of player Oklahoma City generally covets.
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