Race Thompson is giving his team 22.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, and three assists a game. The Falcons came into last night’s contest 2-2 having faced a very tough schedule that’s included five time defending champ DeLaSalle, Class AAAA runner-up Lakeville North, and top ten Tartan.
“The season started out kind of slow for us as we lost our first two games but we never got down on ourselves, we kept pushing ourselves, kept working hard in practices, and we’ve won our past two games so we just need to keep winning,” Thompson said.
“Of course our goal is the state championship but being the best team we can be and not leaving anything on the floor, that’s our main goal.”
Thompson led Armstrong to wins over Andover and Northfield coming into the game with the Panthers. Last year Race scored 15-16 a game playing with several seniors. He was one of the few experienced players returning so he’s had to be a leader.
“The main thing I’m doing differently this year is being more of a leader,” Thompson explained. “I’m also playing better defensively now. It was important for me to keep adding on to my game and doing more things, trying to be unguardable is the main thing. I’m playing everywhere on the floor, I’m playing the one through the five.”
Race has been to at least two Minnesota Gopher games this year including the recent overtime loss to Michigan State and the win over Northern Illinois. He’s impressed with what he’s seen so far.
“The Gophers are a lot better this year,” Thompson said. “I wouldn’t say that I am surprised by how they have played, I knew they were going to be better than they were last year. But it’s definitely nice to have Minnesota be better at basketball than they have been in the past.”
Thompson has been seen playing the point guard spot for both the Falcons and D1 Minnesota in the past, he’s been the five with his back to the basket, and often he’s been a wing or the four man.
Minnesota has guys similar to Race in Jordan Murphy and Amir Coffey. The similarity to Murphy is the explosive and strong frontcourt player but Race is also like Coffey in size (6-foot-8) and all around versatility. Thompson likes the way the Gophers have used their players.
“I think the way they play fits me pretty well actually,” Race explained. “They let their guys get up the floor and they let Amir Coffey handle the ball. I think I will be able to handle the ball in the same way he does kind of.”
The Gopher coaches have watched Thompson play three of his five games already this season with Richard Pitino watching him twice. Pitino and assistant Ben Johnson were at his game last night.
Thompson has earned offers from Baylor, Northwestern, Arizona State, Nebraska, Kansas State, Iowa State, Marquette, Northern Iowa, North Dakota, and Minnesota. But with offers you never know who will show the most interest going forward.
“I would say Iowa State, Minnesota, Baylor, Nebraska, and Creighton are showing the most interest,” Race said. “Right now I’m wide open. I have no idea where I am going to go. I have no clue where I am going to end up, and I think about it every day.”
Thompson has taken several visits since the end of AAU season in July. Iowa State is a place that has definitely caught his eye.
“I have been to Nebraska, Creighton, and Iowa State recently,” Thompson said. “Iowa State is different, they don’t have a big city like a Minneapolis. But they get a lot of love from the fans. I wouldn’t say that Minnesota or some other programs don’t get that, but when I went on a visit to Iowa State I was kind of surprised how they were superstars when they walk around.
“At other places you don’t see players just signing autographs when they walk down the street but at Iowa State they are signing autographs 24-7. The fan base there is not better, but they have a different kind of love than some other places.”
Last night Armstrong fell to Nathan Reuvers and the North Panthers. Thompson scored 15 points with nine boards, and four assists. His corner three, face-up baseline ten-footer and putback dunk stood out as highlights.