Sammy Barnes-Thompkins often hears the stories from his father. He tells him about playing with the speedy Lafester Rhodes and the powerful Jeff Grayer and he tells him about his days at Hilton Coliseum playing for Iowa State.
So when Gary Thompkins talked on the phone recently with Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, he was, for obvious reasons, quite excited. His son, Sammy, who is a senior guard in Phoenix (Ariz.), has drawn interest from a number of schools and now his father’s alma mater is included in that mix.
“They just recently started showing me some interest,” Barnes-Thompkins told AllCyclones.com. “[Hoiberg] was the ball boy when my dad played, so they know each other pretty well. He realized I was his son. He said, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that was your son,’ and they actually just recently started recruiting me. I would love to take a visit there. That would be very cool.”
Barnes-Thompkins, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound guard, has drawn interest from a number of smaller Division I programs, but said his focus is on the high-major and mid-major programs showing interest. That list includes St. John’s, USC, California, Utah and now Iowa State.
The interest from Iowa State began when Gary Thompkins reached out to send tapes of his son. Thompkins often calls secretary Julie Flory, who was also at Iowa State during his playing days, to talk about Sammy. When Hoiberg called, the Iowa State coach was surprised to learn Sammy was Gary's son.
“We first started talking about, ‘You’re lucky you did go to Iowa State, because you almost broke [Jeff] Hornacek’s ankle being our ball boy,’” Gary Thompkins said with a laugh. “As a former player, a dad, coach, you would love for your son to go to the same situation.”
Gary played for the Cyclones from 1985-88, playing on the 1986 team that upset Michigan in the NCAA tournament to advance to the Sweet 16. He is third all-time at Iowa State in assists (600) and is tied for third all-time for assists in a single game, having dished out 14 assists in a game twice during his career.
“He tells me stories all the time,” Barnes-Thompkins said. “It sounded like a fun time. He said that it was a great experience for him at Iowa State, so it’s pretty neat.”
Barnes-Thompkins used his first official visit to make a trip to St. John’s just recently and will be visited at his high school Thursday by California. Interest from other schools started picking up after Barnes-Thompkins scored 32 points against vaunted Findlay Prep. He hopes to sign by April after making several more trips.
Among those stops, Barnes-Thompkins hopes, will be Ames. His contact with the Cyclones has been limited as his father has done most of the talking, but he hopes now that interest has come he can set up a visit.
“I told Fred, if he’s not interested, that’s cool, too,” Gary said. “Sammy, my son, was like, ‘Please call him one more time,’ because he was trying to save one visit for Iowa State. Fred said they may check into it and see what’s going on. Sammy is a great kid, I think he would fit right in with his personality and he would carry on that tradition with no problem.”
Barnes-Thompkins is self-described as a fast-paced player, which he thinks would suit him well for Hoiberg’s system in Ames.
“I kind of like the fast-paced offense, run and gun. I like to shoot some 3s,” Sammy said. “My dad thinks I fit into Iowa State’s type of play quite well with the fast-paced offense. That’s why he was so excited when they started showing interest.”
Since his father told him stories of his glory days, Barnes-Thompkins has dreamed of potentially playing for Iowa State. Now he’s hoping to have the option.
“That would be crazy,” Barnes-Thompkins said. “I always used to think about that as a dream when I was growing up, to go to Iowa State and break some records and play at the same college as my dad. I thought that would be pretty cool.”