Bloomington, Ind. – There's a difference of opinion about Vienna, Ill., big man Brett Thompson.
Some college programs such as Purdue, Northwestern and Bradley think the 6-11, 250-pounder would be a perfect fit at their respective schools at the five position.
Others, such as Indiana and Notre Dame, think with his ability to handle the ball and shoot from the perimeter, he's better suited to play the four.
But no matter who the coach is, there's one thing they agree on – they'd all like to see him in their respective uniforms beginning in the fall of 2008. That's why 16 college coaches – including at least eight head coaches – will be in his hometown of 1,234 on Wednesday for open gym.
One of those coaches will be IU assistant coach Rob Senderoff, who has been handling the Hoosiers' efforts with the standout. Indiana hasn't offered a scholarship yet, but Thompson's Vienna H.S. Coach, Rick Metcalf, believes it's coming.
"I think it's going to happen Wednesday," Metcalf said.
If that does in fact materialize, Indiana will join a lengthy list of programs that have done so. Northwestern, Purdue, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Alabama and Southern Illinois are a handful of the schools that have offered the Class of 2008 standout. Purdue head coach Matt Painter – who will also be at Wednesday's open gym workout – actually began showing interest in Thompson when he was a seventh grader and Painter was an assistant coach on then Saluki Coach Bruce Weber's staff. Metcalf said Cincinnati actually offered after seeing Thompson for only five minutes during another open gym workout.
Metcalf believes Thompson's combination of size and skill makes him a player with a bright future in not only college, but beyond.
"He's 6-11 and still growing like a weed," said Metcalf, who was an assistant coach at Murray State in the late 1980s. "The thing that makes him unique – besides his ability to shoot the 3 - is he can handle the ball like a guard.
"He does some things for his size and age that he shouldn't be doing. Its kind of freakish. It can amaze you some of the things he can do."
Senderoff, meanwhile, has gotten a glimpse of Thompson at his best. The IU assistant coach has been to the small southern Illinois town to see Thompson play before, and the results have been very good according to Metcalf.
"I love it when he shows up because every time he does the kid plays awesome," Metcalf said. "So I want him to come more often."
What Senderoff has witnessed is a player who averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds and more than five blocks per game on a team that went 24-7 a year ago. He did all of that despite often sitting out much of the second half of games due to a slew of blowout victories for the Class A school.
He'll also once again be watching a player who Metcalf believes is very much undervalued by most recruiting services due to the fact they haven't had a chance to see him play.
"Most assistant coaches I talk to…say he's a four-star maybe a 4.5," Metcalf said. "He doesn't have the name because we're in southern Illinois, so he doesn't have the big name that these guys do in the cities."
He might be lacking the big name, but he's not lacking a big frame or a big game, and Metcalf thinks his standout's future is very bright, no matter where he winds up.
"I think the thing Indiana likes is with his shot, his form is like a 1 or 2 guard," Metcalf said. "When he's making five or six 3s in warm ups, people are drooling. He's kind of modeled his game after (Dallas Maverick) Dirk (Nowitski's)… I think eventually he's going to be getting paid to play professionally - I think he's that good. I haven't said that about too many kids I've seen in high school."
So what's the recruiting process going to come down to? Metcalf said he's encouraging Thompson to take all five of his allotted official visits before making a decision, and he expects it will eventually come down to a comfort level that Thompson feels with a coach and program.
"I think it's going to be about relationships," said Metcalf. "If some coach can be a father figure to him, that's the guy that will win it."
Big Man Thompson Lures IU, Others To Vienna
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