AAU coach discusses Vandy hoops commit

Vanderbilt's 2013 recruiting class doubled in size recently, as the Commodores landed a commitment from in-state standout Darius Thompson.

Vanderbilt's 2013 recruiting class doubled in size recently, as the Commodores landed a commitment from in-state standout Darius Thompson. A 6-foot-4 combo guard out of Blackman (TN) High School, Thompson joined Damian Jones of Scotlandville (LA) in Vanderbilt's recruiting haul.

VandyMania.com caught up with Carlton Battle, who coached Thompson on the AAU circuit with Team Nashville, to discuss the senior's commitment.

"Darius really wanted to go to a big school and so he felt that he had the skills to play at a high-major school," Battle said of how Thompson selected Vanderbilt. "He had several mid-major offers and just opted to wait and he started eliminating schools that we too far away from home. He's a family guy and he wanted his parents and friends to be able to see him play.

"So when the Vanderbilt offer came, he just jumped at it because he got everything he wanted in that school as far as playing at a high-major school, in the SEC and playing right down the street in Nashville."

Thompson is from Murfreesboro, Tenn., which is about a half hour away from Vanderbilt. Battle talked about whether it was the proximity to home or something else that was the main, deciding factor for Thompson.

"I think just being an SEC school in his backyard just kind of made everything come together," Battle said. "His family didn't really have to travel at all. They could get off work and go see him play."

According to Battle, Thompson also had scholarship offers from Middle Tennessee State, Murray State, Butler, North Carolina State, Auburn, and Tennessee. Additionally, Virginia was showing interest, but did not offer.

At the end, it came down to a top three of Auburn, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, with the Commodores winning out.

It was only recently that Kevin Stallings and Co. even extended a scholarship offer to Thompson, though.

"I'd say [it was] probably just a month ago and he immediately scheduled a visit and wanted to meet with some academic people over and he was pretty much set," Battle said.

The coach added that he thinks it was an unofficial visit that Thompson. However, Battle said the future Commodore is probably not going to utilize his available official visit to Vanderbilt.

Battle also talked about the way things progressed with Vanderbilt, leading up to Thompson eventually landing that offer.

"They began evaluating him in high school, his high school games this season, and he has a very high basketball IQ so any high-major coach could look at him and see that he is special," Battle said. "He probably doesn't have the body right now that he is going to have in a year or two, but I think that they could see that he is a natural point guard and he could make the game easier for some of his future college teammates. He is one of the best passers that I've ever seen in person."

Battle confirmed that Thompson was definitely recruited by Vanderbilt to play the point guard position. However, he can also slide to the two if needed.

"He can be a combo guard," Battle explained. "That's what he did this summer because I had another full-time point guard . . . At 6'4, he can be a little versatile doing both"

As for what Thompson will bring to the table as a freshman, Battle sees him helping in a couple different ways.

"I think that their offensive numbers will definitely improve because not only will he be able to score, he'll be able to put people in position to score," Battle said. "People who find it difficult to score, Darius will study them and figure out where they need to get the ball [to be in a] scoring position."

Thompson does not know any of the current Commodores on a personal level, but there is one player in particular who Battle thinks will be of help for him.

"He doesn't really know any of them personally," Battle said. "He's probably going to lean more on Kedren Johnson. That's a local kid who he's heard a lot about."

As is the case for most high school kids, Thompson's college decision was a relief for him, as Battle explained.

"It was a big-time relief," Battle began. "His high school team is undefeated. He really wants to win a state championship and he also wants to win Mr. Basketball and he wanted to get that behind him so he could focus on those other two goals."

Battle was not sure what Thompson was averaging, but did share what the senior guard put up in a recent game.

"I went to a game the other day," Battle said. "He had 38 points [to go along with] 11 assists, and that was over the number four ranked team in the state supposedly, [Siegel High School]. They ended up being them by 40 points, and he was seven for 11 in threes that game."

From a more general view, Battle talked about what type of player Thompson is on the hardwood, beginning with the strongest aspect of his game.

"Getting people open shots, his vision," Battle said. "He kind of sees things before they happen and that makes coaching him [and] coaching a team a whole lot easier."

As for his chief area of weakness, Battle remarked, "Strength, right now, as far as going to the college game."

In conclusion, Battle shared some thoughts about Thompson and how he sees him as a player going forward.

"I think that he waited and he got exactly what he wanted," Battle said. "I think that as he grows and becomes more physically mature, I just think that the rest of the country will know about him as he grows into a college body and I just think his best basketball is ahead of him."

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