How can a guy play at ABCD Camp, look average and then blow up at the Big Time? That one's easy. A big man at ABCD can get lost in the shuffle of what often times morphs into a guard oriented camp style game.
What happened at the Big Time to facilitate the July blow up? Ah, great question. With all great players, especially the big guys, there's often a singular moment that occurs in their career when they 1) become comfortable with who they are and 2) realize that they can impact games when they choose.
For Thompson, his moment of clarification came against Cole Aldrich and the Minnesota Magic at Foothill High School in Las Vegas, at the Big Time.
"At ABCD, I didn't really play that good," Thompson said. "I don't know why. Then in Vegas, I felt like I got over the hump." With a little help from Aldrich, whom Thompson noticed had made the all-star game at ABCD.
"After I noticed I played good and he's considered one of the good big men in his class," Thompson said. "I realized that I could play good against a lot of people."
At that point, Arizona State was following him around like he was the second coming of Ike Diogu. The Sun Devils were on him early and hard. They were about to get company. UCLA was trailing him but hadn't turned up the heat just yet. Things changed in a hurry.
The junior who had averaged 18.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.7 blocks would be watched by a plethora of elite teams by the time he left Vegas and headed for Los Angeles, his final AAU event of the year.
L.A. could have been tough on him but, sensing what was on the line, he fought through an injury. "The first play of the game I sprained my ankle," Thompson said. "I kept playing through it and I continued to play strong. The first game I played alright and then the last day we played Team Danny Williams and I played well again."
When the summer ended, Thompson had collected offers from the aforementioned 7 schools. He's already set up an official visit to North Carolina for Sept. 30. As for the remainder of the trips, he's got an idea about what he'd like to do, but nothing set in stone.
"Definitely [visit] Gonzaga, Kentucky and I'll definitely go to UConn," Thompson said. "Things can change though." UCLA is close enough to unofficial but Thompson sees a big benefit of making an official there. "Actually, my coach and I have been talking about how its close but its hard to get to know their players if I do an unofficial."
What a journey this young man has been on in just the last 10 days. However, for a guy who tipped the scales at 295 as a sophomore, he's ready to experience some of the rewards of hard work. Now 250 pounds, no longer overweight and about to be considered one of the best big man prospects in the country, Thompson will gladly enjoy being courted by elite programs.
The one-time high school football player (he stopped after his freshman season) has put himself on the map in a big way. After a long summer, it's time to enjoy the fruits of his labor.