Motivation high for Thompson

P.J. Thompson hopes to be the Boilermakers' starting point guard. This is just one of many thing motivating the new Purdue freshman.

Just past 5 a.m. on a March morning, a text message came in to P.J. Thompson's phone. It was his new Purdue teammate, Dakota Mathias. He had a challenge for the other incoming freshmen.

"I hope you're up getting better like I am," the text message read.

"It's giving us more motivation," Thompson said.

As if Thompson needed more. Just one month ago, the Indianapolis point guard didn't know where he'd be going to school. It didn't seem like Purdue would be a fit, not after years of holding off on an offer. But that changed quickly.

Coach Matt Painter extended Thompson an offer, and he accepted soon after. Then, just a few days later, the Boilermakers lost starting point guard Ronnie Johnson to a transfer. Thompson was picked by Painter as insurance for the program.

Thompson is now staring down the opportunity to be the Boilermakers' floor general.

"It's the best feeling, knowing you can possibly go in and play a lot of minutes and possibly start on a Big Ten team," Thompson said. "It's something special. A month ago, I didn't know where I was going to go to school. This process has been so long and so stressful. It's a weight lifted off my shoulders."

This has fueled Thompson to get better, pushing him even harder through the offseason. He's on his own in workouts, but pushing himself like Painter is there.

Sure, Thompson realizes a starting spot has to be won. Sophomore Bryson Scott is presumed to be the frontrunner. Nothing will be won until the fall.

"It means a lot," said Thompson. "I know that I'll have to earn everything I get, but I feel I'll be ready to compete for the start and beady to earn the opportunity to play right away."

Ever since Thompson committed to the Boilermakers in March, he has maintained contact with the coaches. Even after a disappointing season, the optimism is still high between all, players and coaches alike.

Thompson still feels the arrow is pointing up for Purdue.

"Coach Painter is a proven coach," Thompson said. "He's been the Big Ten's Coach of the Year.

"I know how good Purdue can be, and I know how good they've been in the past. Them having a tough season, it doesn't change my mind with anything. I know we have potential to be the best team in the Big Ten."

For this to happen, and Purdue to rise to the top, it will take work ethic from all involved with the program. Thompson's freshmen class will have to key a rebirth for the Boilermakers.

"We're only going to get better," he said. "I'm definitely excited."

Just more motivation for Thompson—as if he needed it.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Northwestern Wildcats, and currently covers the Purdue Boilermakers. A Chicago native, he resides in West Lafayette.
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