Ever since 6-foot-3, 160-pound Torrance (Calif.) Bishop Montgomery 2015 shooting guard Stephen Thompson, Jr. showed up on the scene as a freshman making an impact very early in his high school career, it was clear that the son of former Syracuse star and NBA guard Stephen Thompson, Sr. was a player in his own right.
Thompson has made a big jump as a player every year, and now he's not only one of the best scorers on the West Coast, but he's not close to his ceiling and there's every reason to think his continued progress isn't about to stall.
A very good three-point shooter, Thompson also has a consistent floater and as he's gotten older, his improved ball skills, body control and athleticism have helped him at attacking the basket. Thompson is a good defender who shows excellent anticipation in passing lanes and uses his quick hands to tally steals.
While Thompson's slight frame will likely slow his strength development, his work ethic, skill set, quickness and basketball IQ will more than suffice until he gets stronger.
Due to all those qualities, Thompson has one of the highest floors on the West Coast class of 2015 and is a player who there's every reason to think should be able to make a smooth transition as a scorer from high school to college.
Thompson's junior season isn't quite over yet, but his father is pleased with the way he's played.
"I think he's had a very good season thus far," said Thompson, Sr. "They lost a lot of guys from last year and he took on a different role this season. He's had to run the point, score, defend, rebound and do so many things. His leadership qualities had to elevate. Given all those things, he's had a good year thus far."
The most important goal for the younger Thompson in this coming off-season will be to put on some weight.
"He's definitely got to get stronger and I just talked to him about after his season ends, he'll have about a week off and then he'll have a program to work on his strength," said Thompson, Sr. "He'll need to rebound the basketball a lot better and he can keep getting better at every area in his game; all areas can get better."
Given how productive Thompson already is, it's no surprise that he has so many schools already recruiting him hard.
"Gonzaga, San Diego State, New Mexico, USC, Arizona State, Boston College, Colorado, Stanford and Harvard are probably showing the most interest," said Thompson, Sr. "Those schools are all making him a priority and he's building relationships with all of them."
Having a dad who has already gone through the recruiting process before is something that Thompson, Jr. will be able to take advantage of and his father says there are a number of areas that Stephen, Jr. will be looking at before choosing a school.
"In our talks, playing time is going to be important; he likes an up-tempo, open court style of play and in a half court he likes floor spacing, movement and things of that nature," said Thompson, Sr.
"Needing him instead of just wanting him is big, and academics – and that's coming from him, not me – but academics are very important to him; he wants a strong academic program. Location isn't a factor; he'll go anywhere as long as the things we discussed are in place."
This spring and summer, Thompson, Jr. may hit the road and check out some of the schools recruiting him.
"So far he's taken unofficials to San Diego State, USC, UCLA and LMU," said Thompson, Sr. "In the spring he'll probably want to see Arizona State, Gonzaga and Stanford."
As of now, Thompson isn't in any hurry to take the next step in the recruiting process.
"He's still taking in the information and more schools are still entering the picture. Creighton offered after the game on Friday and UCLA had him up for an unofficial at one of his games and they've been coming around a lot," said Thompson, Sr.
"I think schools are still coming in, he's absorbing the information and taking his time. I don't think he's leaning one way or the other; he's taking in information while staying focused on his season and academics."