Where Korey Thieleke was from, life wasn't always easy... Coming out of Bakersfield, California Korey was known as an all around athlete with crazy wingspan. He definitely stood out in the Pilots layup line in his Freshman season. I remember thinking, who is the kid with tattoos getting above the rim during layups, and why is he not getting any playing time. Although he didn't get much run during his Freshman season, he also doubled as a member of the Portland Outdoor track and field team, where he did get plenty of run (Korey's high school track numbers).
In Korey's Sophomore season he continued to see only occasional looks in garbage time and it wasn't until his Junior year (2012-2013) where found his role as Portland's energy guy. Whether it was because Nemanja Mitrovic graduated and left some open minutes to take or whether Thieleke really blossomed over the Summer is unclear, what was clear was that Korey would not be kept off the court this season. He was even thriving against big time competition (12 points against UNLV and 9 against Kentucky). Against New Mexico last season, he definitely played the game of his life filling up the box score like only he can:
Technicals: 1 NEWMEXICO ( ) PORTLAND ( T Riley 1 )
Officials: Larry Spaulding, Mark Whitehead, Scott Thornley
The end of the 2012-2013 season also saw the rise of Bryce Pressley, which slowly cut into Korey's minutes. After having a breakout season like he did, it took a lot of character for Korey not to pout when he lost minutes to the new kid. Instead he took the Summer to yet again reinvent his game and carve out a new niche for himself on the team, defensive stopper (check out Jim Beseda's article about embracing his new role).
This season Korey's been in Tyler Haws face, he's been in Kevin Pangos's face, he's been in Anthony Ireland's face, he's been in a lot of faces, which is not always the job that receives the most credit. But that's just the kind of dirty work he embraces.
Korey it's been a pleasure watching you over the years, your energy has been the key to a lot of our comebacks and it will be hard to replace. With the great leaps (literally and figuratively) you have made since joining the team, I can't wait to see where you end up next, because you still have room to grow and your definitely a next level player (go see the world bro!). Start hitting those corner threes like Bruce Bowen and your bank account will flourish my friend.