Vegas Week: The Rise of Race Thompson

2018 forward Race Thompson had one of the finest final weeks to an AAU season that GI has seen in some time. Offers, numbers, victories, and big highlights were all apart of the 6-foot-7 forward’s giant week in Las Vegas.

2018 forward Race Thompson had one of the finest final weeks to an AAU season that GI has seen in some time.  Offers, numbers, victories, and big highlights were all apart of the 6-foot-7 forward’s giant week in Las Vegas.

(Race)ing the Bar

This past winter Richard Pitino offered Race Thompson his first high major scholarship offer.  Before the weekend Thompson was joined by Marquette and Iowa State in extending.  Now? Thompson has nine major conference offers. How?  Let’s run through it step by step.

In game one D1 Minnesota lost to the Compton Magic but Race did everything he could to keep them in the game including backside effort highlights score, four treys, and defensive efforts that led to his own transition creation plays. Thompson showed his perimeter skill, explosive paint play, and ability to defend multiple spots.  Had 20 points  (plus eight boards) and the baseline was full of approaching coaches.

Thompson then had a double-double against Reggie Perry and Ethan Henderson (10 and 14) out of Arkansas and a near double-double (13 and 8) in a win over the New England Playaz.  That night Kansas State offered.  The next day Thompson wasn’t stopped inside or out by Team Loaded going for 28 points and 11 rebounds making a couple threes and nine of ten foul shots.  This put his team in the elite eight.

In the elite eight against Indiana Elite, Race Thompson had a highlight lob dunk and an even bigger highlight three point make at the buzzer to put his team into the final four beating Indiana Elite 56-55.  It was his fourth three-point make of the game leading to 25 points and nine boards.  Nebraska then offered.

Thompson saved his best individual game, for last.  Ohio Basketball Club won the semi-final but could not stop Race from putting up 42 points on 16-23 shooting including a regulation buzzer beater that put the game into overtime.  Shortly after the contest Arizona State offered and then today Creighton and Northwestern offered. 

So what is Thompson doing that he’s become one of the hottest recruiting names really nationwide?  Really it’s everything.  This is a player that is tough to pinpoint in terms of a position.  At 6-foot-7, maybe 6-foot-8 he’s played lead guard for his D1 Minnesota team many times and he has the green light to push for both his AAU club and his high school team.  Thompson shoots with a balanced touch and high percentage results at the arc and he can take the vast majority of the frontcourt three positions off the bounce. 

Thompson is well built and has barely touched the weight room yet.  He’s got quick springs to blocks, boards, and finishes and a muscular frame that can’t be knocked off balance at the 16U level. He can play with his back to the basket or face-up out of the post. This is a guy that is truly a combo forward that will give his AAU and high school coaches of the future, as well as his future high major program, a versatile player that can be used in a number of ways.

Howard Pulley’s Next Headline Big

The Howard Pulley Panthers have had a lot of frontline players move through their program over the years.  Where does 6-foot-9 Daniel Oturo fit with the rest?  We would say he has the potential to be in the Trevor Mbakwe or Reid Travis category because like those two forwards, Oturo is very active without the ball and he’s quick off his feet to make plays on both ends.

The difference is that Daniel plays a lot of center.  He was a 6-foot-4 eighth grader that doesn’t seem to stop growing and he’s also extremely long.  When Theo John went down with another injury (a broken nose this time) Daniel stepped up to give the Panthers 16 points and 14 rebounds in the Bigfoot Las Vegas Classic championship game.

Daniel of course is a 2018 talent who is still developing.  But while he’s developing the Cretin-Derham Hall talent is giving his team consistent production.  He’s recently added offers from Creighton and Georgia Tech to a growing list that includes Minnesota, Providence, and Northern Iowa.

Oturo is most known for his quick bounce to blocking shots, snaring boards off the rim, and some aggressive finishes and Oturo prefers to dunk the ball through the hoop and into players rather than power finish off the glass.  But we also like how Daniel is catching in the post and reacting to the defense by using his countless hours of low post work to feel the defense and right shoulder turn into touching scores or face-up baskets. 

Defensively Daniel is doing a fantastic job moving off screens, showing on screens to cut off the angle of the penetrating guard, and moving quickly into low post help positions.  Oturo is also a backside block-out nightmare as guards and wings can not rotate over and deal with his aggressive approach to putbacks .

Isaiah’s Final New Heights Chapter

The final two games in the New Heights career of Isaiah Washington couldn’t have been more different.  One was a big number win that now has highlights all over You Tube and the other was a Saturday afternoon loss that led to Washington going to Twitter and saying it was the worst game of his life.

Where to begin?  With the top performance of course!  First off Isaiah made numerous foul shots off of both his own attacks and off Belmont Shore technical foul calls so his 33 points had a lot to do with his fantastic free throw shooting. But there was more to it than that.

The first highlight that comes to mind is 2018 Tony Goodwin attempting to pick Washington up full court but Isaiah blew by him left, stopped on a dime while the defender moved by, and Isaiah hit a pretty looking 18 foot pull-up jumper. There was also the hesitation dribble that froze Bryce Hamilton and allowed Isaiah the corner attacking left where he then snuck a right hand finger roll back under Hamilton’s length.

Another gorgeous move was the transition full speed attack that became a freezing hesitation into an explosive crossover left to right completed at the rim while being fouled.  We saw Washington use the space given by a big after a switch to hit a three and we saw him score with feet set in the corner catching and hitting after a ball reversal. He also moved defenders out of his radius and then stepped back or to the side into wide open space while defenders just grimaced as they knew they were fried. 

Assists?  Without a doubt.  Belmont Shore players were force to be slow of foot and scared all game long because Washington goes from 0 to 100 in a heartbeat and he can do it in either direction. Often the sudden burst led to help defenders sucking in (and this was in every game we saw of Washington’s) and then Isaiah attacking with simple dump-offs, zipping kickouts, and some times the highlight no-look or rap around assists.

GI saw Isaiah’s last game where he was dynamite in transition leading teammates for seven assists and Washington’s decisions with each pass were done at the ideal time. He wasted no time in sending rapid chest passes forward and perfect lobs over the top. When he needed to attack a retreating defender Isaiah did and then found the right angle to lead his teammate on the break.

Isaiah had the seven assists in that final game, scored four times on the attack, and chased down five boards. Washington has a terrible time knocking down jumpers so the field goal numbers were 3-15 in that final game but Washington left Vegas high in the minds of all that watched him.

Georgia Tech was there and offered him after the event.  At the event regularly was Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino and assistant Kimani Young as well as Seton Hall Head Coach Kevin Willard, several Texas A&M assistants, and the New Mexico staff. These were the four schools that put the most effort in being at Isaiah’s games.

The We-R1 Kids

GI was at We-R1 games to simply watch an elite guard in Trevon Duval as well as see 2018 wing Eric Ayala who the Gophers have been observing this July.  What caught are attention the most though was the way that mid-major recruits Talek Williams, Kevin Anderson, and Tyrese Martin played.

First off, 6-foot-5 Tyrese Martin is a guy that we feel should be on the list of every person who talks about stock raisers.  Martin went on several scoring binges in Las Vegas that included a touch at the arc, transition attacks facing up and beating other wings to the corner, and finishing explosively at the cup.  San Diego did the smart thing in offering Martin after the event.

San Diego joined team like Florida International, Hofstra, Canisius, Central Connecticut State and others in offering.  Martin said he’s also head from LaSalle and we would expect that after the way he played at the Fab 48 he should be getting more options soon.

Six-foot-4 guard Kevin Anderson has offers from Lafayette, Colgate, and Wagner plus interest from a host of schools including Wright State, St. Joes, Navy, San Francisco, Monmouth, and a host of others.  Anderson has good size on the wing, he’s very good attacking with one dribble and playmaking, and he’s a consistent point producer. 

One of the most explosive guards we saw was Talek Williams, a 6-foot-2/6-foot-3 shooting guard that may have one of the best vertical bounces we saw all week.  He’s the player that Duval is commonly lobbing to for highlight jams and his physical gifts could be turned into something special.  Central Connecticut State, Florida International, Bowling Green, Nicholls State, and Wagner are the smart programs after Williams.


  • Theo John had a great weekend of shot blocking but ended up breaking his nose in the semi-finals plus had a concussion.  Who was there from his final six to watch him on Sunday?  Minnesota was once again at every game, Cal was at every game as they have been, and Illinois stopped by on Sunday to see all the contests.  Purdue saw one of the games on Sunday while Oklahoma and Marquette weren’t at the games we were in attendance for.  We saw Richard Pitino at most of Theo’s games in Vegas Wednesday through Sunday, Lon Kruger and Cuonzo Martin were at 2 or 3 of the seven Theo played in, while head coaches from the other three teams (Purdue, Illinois, and Marquette) were not at Theo’s seven games this week.
  • Isaiah Livers has been talking to Minnesota assistant Ben Johnson consistently for a couple months and the Gophers offered a couple weeks back.  Livers told us Minnesota was in the thick of his recruitment with Cal, Butler, and the Michigan schools.  At that point Livers, who is from Kalamazoo, Michigan hadn’t been offered by Michigan or Michigan State, he was just getting interest from the schools.  In the past 24 hours Tom Izzo and John Beilein have both offered Livers.
  • GI got a good look at the Rodney Williams like game of 2018 New Heights small forward Sidney Wilson on Saturday.  The highlight was an open floor 1-hand dunk straight over the top of an opponent ranking with the nastiest dunks you will see.  Wilson also attacked for a pair of And1s after that and elbow jumper.  Incredible highlight ability that makes us thing Rodney Williams from Robbinsale Cooper and the University of Minnesota in the not to distant past. 
  • GI will have one final report on what we saw in Vegas as we review the ESPN U games tomorrow.

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