Thompson Recovering, Still Producing

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. --- If this is what an injured and tired Deon Thompson can accomplish, it speaks volumes to the extent of his upside.

Thompson hasn't fully recovered from an ankle sprain suffered in the season opener and his stamina is still lacking as a result of the time spent on the sideline. Yet he managed 22 points and 12 rebounds in Torrance's 63-54 win over J Serra in pool play Wednesday at the Ocean View Tournament of Champions – with UNC assistant coach Joe Holladay in the stands.

Thompson was hobbling and clearly winded in the final minutes, though still contributed some key late points.

"Stamina is the slowest thing coming back for him," Torrance coach George Tachibana told Inside Carolina postgame. "He had ten days off where he couldn't do anything. He's getting there - and today in the fourth quarter he hit some big shots for us."

The first step of his post move is the deadliest for Thompson's defenders. It's much quicker than expected from a 250-pounder and, along with his strength and soft touch, is quite difficult to stop.

"He's so quick and powerful that if you body him up, he goes around you," Tachibana said. "You step off him and his shot is solid out to 15-feet."

Wednesday night, Thompson shot 9-of-20 from the field. Most of his offense was generated by posting up strong on the blocks and then using that fast first step to set up a close finish or short-range pull up. He hit a baseline turnaround, a jumper from the elbow and a one-handed jump hook and then opted for taking it right to the rim with three "and-one's." With that kind of weapon down low, it's no wonder he's the center of the Torrance offense.

"He's so coachable, he picks up the game, has such a good feel and has become a great passer out of the post," Tachibana said. "Ideally the more touches he gets the better it is for everybody."

As he tired, it was evident in his shot. The jumpers came up short and the free throws did as well. Thompson hit his first three free throws and then missed his next five, finishing 4-of-9 from the field.

"Deon's been behind in his conditioning since he got injured early – in the first game," Tachibana said.

On a future night, when he's regained his stamina, it's easy to envision more of those shots will fall from the field and the foul line and for him to put up some big point totals. Meanwhile, on the boards, he had 12 rebounds - yet could have had far more.

"The key area in his game that he needs to improve on is being aggressive on the offensive glass," Tachibana said. "He gets all the rebounds that are near him defensively, but he heeds to attack the offensive glass. When he adds that to his game …"

Look out.


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