'[Thompson]'s the Premier Guy'

It certainly hasn't been an easy season for North Carolina signee Deon Thompson. The 6-foot-8, 250-pounder is battling through a number of different ailments.

First, he was nagged by a bone chip in one of his ankles, then a calf strain was bothering him and now he is currently battling the flu.

"Right when the season was starting he was clearly in the best shape of his life," Torrance (Calif.) High School head coach George Tachibana said. "But these constant injuries have kind of held him back a little because he's not running as much as he would be."

Tachibana described Thompson's ankle as "95-percent" and his calf strain as "better." But the flu has slowed him down and is hurting his conditioning.

"The poor guy - its one thing after another," his coach said. "I think he'll be through everything right when we need him heading into the second round of the league and then the playoffs."

Despite the constant injuries, Thompson has only missed three games and is still putting up impressive numbers. His current averages are 21 points, 13 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game.

According to his coach, Thompson is really showing off his skill and mobility in the paint – and has yet to meet his match at the high school level.

"In the post clearly he's the premier guy," Tachibana said of his star center. "And the teams we are playing like Fairfax have a number of kids that will be going Division I. The teams we are playing are quality teams."

Thompson's dominance in the paint has led to gimmick defenses and double teams from the opposition. While it's frustrating for Thompson and the team, they have still managed an 11-9 record.

"Nobody guards him single coverage - when they do it's over," Tachibana said. "Some teams will come out and try it. But in single coverage Deon will go for 10-12 points in a quarter. So then they go to a zone and they collapse down and send double and triple teams."

But Tachibana doesn't blame the opposing coaches, because Thompson is at his best when he has the defender sealed and his back is to the basket.

"The best part of his game is his ability to create space once he gets the ball and score. He has a real knack for it," the coach continued. "Being able to do a quick spin and he's at the basket. You almost have to double and triple team."

Tachibana said that Thompson's game is a lot more finesse than many would think. He has really learned how to rebound the ball well especially on the offensive end. His soft hands and quick feet are what supply him with the biggest advantage over defending post men.

His jump shot is even coming along very nicely, as he has extended his range to 17-feet. According to Tachibana his overall game has matured since the summer.

"He's much improved since then," Tachibana explained. "I think it's just coming with his body maturing. He's doing things that he didn't do before, like flying in with a rebound dunk. He never used to even attempt that. He'd just bring it down and go back up with it. Now if you don't box him out he's at the rim throwing it down.

But there are weaknesses to his game as well. The main area Thompson needs to work on is his lack of intensity against lesser competition.

"I think the biggest difference for him is he has to understand when he gets to a school like North Carolina you just have to play hard every single possession," Tachibana said. "When you get to that level playing with kids like that, that are all top-level talent you can't take plays off."

But Thompson is steadily getting rid of his bad habits and is a dominant force in California basketball. Now he just needs to shake the nagging ailments and he'll be ready to take on the ACC next season.

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