After the 2015-16 season, Ohio State center Trevor Thompson took advantage of the new NCAA rule that allows underclassmen to declare for the NBA draft but maintain their collegiate eligibility. Doing so gives players the opportunity to participate in workouts conducted by NBA teams and thus, get a stronger understanding of just how ready they are to compete at the next level.
Thompson did just that and decided to return to Columbus for his junior season. The decision has paid dividends for him so far.
The Indianapolis native has recorded five double-doubles just past the halfway point of the 2016-17 campaign. He had three double-doubles all of last year.
Additionally, Thompson is producing 10.7 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots per contest through 17 games this season. At this point last year, the 7-0, 250-pounder was averaging 5.9 points, five boards and 1.4 blocks.
Testing the NBA waters is not the only reason why Thompson is excelling this year, though.
“One of the biggest things no one talks about that has really helped Trevor is having Greg Oden around,” OSU associate head coach Dave Dickerson said. “Greg has been a godsend for him. Greg obviously is one of the best inside players to play college basketball in the last 20 years. Greg is very humble himself and I think some of Greg’s traits have rubbed off onto Trevor as well.”
Oden averaged 15.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.3 blocked shots per game for the Buckeyes in 2006-07 while also being named a second-team, consensus All-American.
In his one season at Ohio State, Oden led the team to an appearance in the 2007 national championship game, which OSU lost to Florida, 84-75. The 7-footer left the program early and was selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. Multiple leg injuries doomed Oden’s NBA career, however, so he decided to return to the OSU basketball program as a student assistant prior to this season.
Oden, nine away from turning 29, enrolled in the 2016 fall semester as a sophomore majoring in sports industry.
Dickerson said that adding Oden to the coaching staff provides Thompson a different perspective to learn from.
“With Greg Oden being around, I really think that’s been one of the biggest parts of (Thompson’s) development because sometimes – and I’m not saying Trevor does this – sometimes a kid tunes coaches out because they think we have a one-track mind,” Dickerson said. “Greg Oden is as smart of an inside player that has ever played college basketball and pro basketball. So Greg has really helped him a lot as well.”