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Getting To Know: Jason Thompson
by: Kyle Nelson - College Basketball Scout
January 31, 2008
Jason Thompson is a prospect who, until recently, has played in relative obscurity for the Rider Broncos in the MAAC Conference. This season, however, he has had the opportunity to showcase his abilities in nationally televised games against the likes of Kansas State, North Carolina State, Penn State, and Rutgers. Now, following an away victory we attended against Marist, Thompsonís Rider Broncos are sitting on top of the MAAC standings alongside rival Siena, and seem poised for a big finish.



Offensively, Jason Thompson is a versatile prospect. Possessing the inside-outside game that scouts like to see from a 6í11 big men, Thompsonís problem has always been putting it all together. Tonight did nothing to dispel this notion, as he had a typical statistical night, but showed the positives and negative aspects of his game to an audience of scouts that included Cavaliers GM Danny Ferry and scouts from the Cavaliers and Kings. Going up against Maristís smallish frontcourt, Thompson rarely used his superior size, quickness, and athleticism to his advantage. While he had a couple of nice possessions in which he faced the basket and attacked the rim, he had trouble maintaining his position in the low post and was visibly frustrated by his lack of touches as the game wore on. In fact, he did not successfully score with his back to the basket until he literally muscled a Marist big man from the perimeter for an easy basket with 8 minutes remaining in the second half! His low post game, in particular suffered because he was unable to find his touch around the basket, which has been a question throughout the season. He did have a nice defensive game, proving himself to be a good shot blocker with his combination of timing, patience, and athleticism. He did a good job of not biting on the Marist post playersí ball and head fakes, and really using his size and length to his advantage on the low block. At times, though, his concentration on the defensive end seemed to wane, and he let some undersized and fairly unskilled big men have their way with him around the basket.

However, Thompson again showed a range of tantalizing flashes that allow him to dominate at this level, even if he has a lot more work to do on his game. He often releases his shot after the peak of his jump for example. Focus is a key, as well. Thompson can afford to coast if things are not going his way at this level, but at the next level, he must be willing to fight during the entire game on both ends of the floor. Consistency is also important. Right now, it seems that Thompson is still learning his role and how to incorporate his set of skills into a cohesive and consistent offensive game. While he didnít always do enough to convince everyone differently in past analysis, Thompsonís abilities and potential are undeniable and his efforts against high-major big men this year, including Kansas Stateís Michael Beasley and North Carolina Stateís J.J. Hickson have showed the draft pundits that he can compete with NBA level size and athleticism. But, if last nightís game is any indication, Thompson will have to continue to make his case at the pre-draft camps and team workouts if the high draft expectations that follow him around are going to come to fruition.

Following his 20 point (8/17 field goals, 4/6 free throws), 9 rebound (4 offensive), 4 assist, and 4 block performance, we had a chance to catch up with the Thompson and ask him about his improvements, the implications of an NBA prospect playing for a mid-major school, and the surprising emergence of his brother Ryan into a prospect:

DX: Your path to Rider has been publicized by the media this year. You started out as a 6í8 underrated high schooler. Could you talk a little bit about your journey and things that youíve worked on improving?



JT: Yeah, coming in as a freshman. I was an unproven type playing. I was more of an energy guy: 6í8, just trying to get rebounds. Just trying to help my team. I led my team to a conference championship. Over the years, the coaches really have seen that I have high potential. Some of things that I needed to work on were my strength, and working on a consistent jump-shot, and establishing a post game. Over the years, Iíve done that and itís really helped me out. Also, growing a few inches from 6í8 to 6í11 has helped as well, and thatís why some of the numbers that Iíve been putting up are giving me national attention that I think I deserve.

DX: Now, looking at your numbers this year, youíve had some percentages go down and some percentages go up, youíre not scoring as much, but youíre rebounding more. What did you work on in the off-season and what motivated you?

JT: I just give a lot of credit to my coaches and strength and conditioning coaches. Iíve been trying to lift weights, not just for the competition that I have here, but for bigger, higher level teams we play against, and even for the next level. So, thatís definitely helped me out. Iíve been more committed and more motivated about getting in the gym and getting more shots up, even working on dribbling and guard skills a little bit. Thatís a hard matchup for other teams when I can go outside and dribble and bring the ball up and shoot from outside. And if I have a smaller guy or a same sized guy on me, I can post him up. Itís a tough matchup.

DX: That being said, do you have anything that people donít know about you at this stage that weíre not going to see until you go to workouts and you start training?

JT: Yeah. Iím always working hard. I donít give up on anything, even if Iím tired. In the offense that we run, I donít shoot as many threes as Iím capable of shooting. But we have a lot of good shooters. I have a consistent mid-range game and a consistent post game that not a lot of post guys do nowadays. Thereís more of that European style. I have that same style, but I can post guys as well.

DX: One question, just to clarify: weíve seen you listed anywhere from 6í10, 245. to 6í11, 250. Can we set the record straight?

JT: 6í11, 250.

DX: Youíve played against NC Stateís J.J. Hickson, Kansas Stateís Michael Beasley, and even Rutgersís JR Inman. What have you learned from playing against these guys. What weaknesses were exposed? What did you do well?

JT: I went to camps in the summer. LeBron Jamesí camp, Amare Stoudemireís camp, and Pete Newellís camp in Las Vegas. Those camps had me playing against top guys like that. So, being at a mid-major school, Iíve played against more mid-major teams and people say that Iíve been putting up big numbers, but heís only putting them up against smaller colleges. Having that experience and playing against a couple of NBA guys has helped me out and gotten my confidence up. I have a certain swagger when I play against these higher-level guys. Going into the summer prepared me for these games; I think I played well. I can see that the speed is different and the strength is different, but I donít let it bother me. I was already used to that in the summer, and playing guys like that really helped me out.

DX: So, what do you think about being a mid-major player as well as an NBA draft prospect? Does the fact that you play for a team like Rider hurt your potential at all?

JT: I donít think it really hurts. I think itís good for other mid-major players to see a guy like Paul Millsap in Utah and Rodney Stuckey in Detroit. It gives me a lot of confidence. Guys like that, from mid-major schools, are playing for big time playoff teams in the NBA. Itís not that I play for a mid-major team, but that Iím playing against higher-level teams and trying to expand my game.

DX: While weíre talking about expanding your game, have you put any thought into what you need to work on before getting to the next level?

JT: Iím going to have to get a little more flexible. I have a bigger frame than Iíve had in the past, and I need to keep working with weights. I need to stay consistent with my jump shot because guys my size in the NBA need to be good at certain things, and if Iím good at these certain things, it should help me out.

DX: As you get closer to the end of your senior season, have you encountered the agent-recruiting scene? Have you started to run into any of these situations that guys experience when they are beginning to prepare for the NBA Draft?

JT: You definitely get calls and youíve got guys coming to my games, and stuff like that. But what Coach has prepared me for is really not to worry about this stuff right now. Itís going to come. After the season, Iíll wait until after the season to make my decision and to start talking to certain guys. Iím not worried about that right now. Iím just worried about my team winning games and winning the championship.

DX: At the end of the season do you plan to start working out and start preparing right away. Or will you take a break?

JT: When the season is over, Iím going to probably get right to it, maybe take a week off or so, but definitely not take a lot of time off. I know that Iím not 100% ready for the next level. Iím going to work out and get used to the NBA workouts with certain trainers in order to get ready for the next level.

DX: Will we be seeing you at Portsmouth? Have you received an invitation yet?

JT: Yeah, I did get an invitation to Portsmouth and an invitation to Orlando. Itís just a matter of which one Iím going to or if Iím going to both. So, weíll see.

DX: So, your brother Ryan Thompson has emerged as quite the player this year. Could you tell us a little about him and what your influence over him has been?

JT: You know, Ryan has definitely improved his game over the past few years. Last year he came in as a freshman and he didnít have the confidence. But, you could definitely see his talent. I know because Iím his older brother. Me being here definitely helps him, helping him out, explaining some things at the college level that he hasnít experienced. Now, heís more comfortable and heís gotten stronger. Heís an important piece of the puzzle.

DX: You two play great together, too. So, we might be writing about him in a couple years?

JT: Hopefully. He has the potential.

DX: All right. Thank you very much, Jason. Congratulations on the win and good luck with the rest of your season.

Jason Thompson, as well as his brother, Ryan, will next be playing on February 2nd, when they journey to Siena in a game that will be televised on ESPN2.
 


Feedback for this article may be sent to kyle.nelson@draftexpress.com .

 

Jason Thompson
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 11"
Weight: 250 lbs.
Birthday: 07/21/1986
27 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Lenape
Previous Team: Rider , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #12 in 2008 Draft
by the Kings
Positions:
Current: C,
NBA: C,
Possible: PF/C
Quick Stats:
7.1 Pts, 6.4 Rebs, 0.6 Asts


Danny Ferry
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 10"
Weight: 230 lbs.
Birthday: 10/17/1966
47 Years Old
Teams:
High School: DeMatha Catholic
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #2 in 1989 Draft
by the Clippers
Positions:
Current: F,
NBA: F,
Possible: F
Quick Stats:
1.9 Pts, 1.2 Rebs, 0.3 Asts


Michael Beasley
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 8"
Weight: 239 lbs.
Birthday: 01/09/1989
25 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Notre Dame Prep
Previous Team: Kansas State , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #2 in 2008 Draft
by the Heat
Positions:
Current: PF,
NBA: PF,
Possible: SF/PF
Quick Stats:
7.9 Pts, 3.1 Rebs, 0.7 Asts


J.J. Hickson
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 9"
Weight: 242 lbs.
Birthday: 09/04/1988
25 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Wheeler
Previous Team: N.C. State , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #19 in 2008 Draft
by the Cavaliers
Positions:
Current: PF,
NBA: PF,
Possible: PF
Quick Stats:
11.1 Pts, 6.0 Rebs, 1.1 Asts


JR Inman
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 9"
Weight: 220 lbs.
Birthday: 03/04/1987
27 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Montvale St. Joseph
Previous Team: Rutgers , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: PF,
NBA: SF/PF,
Possible: SF
Quick Stats:
9.6 Pts, 6.3 Rebs, 1.1 Asts


LeBron James
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 8"
Weight: 245 lbs.
Birthday: 12/30/1984
29 Years Old
Teams:
High School: St. Vincent-St. Mary
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #1 in 2003 Draft
by the Cavaliers
Positions:
Current: G,
NBA: SF,
Possible: G/F
Quick Stats:
27.1 Pts, 6.9 Rebs, 6.3 Asts


Amare Stoudemire
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 10"
Weight: 233 lbs.
Birthday: 11/16/1982
31 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Cypress Creek
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #9 in 2002 Draft
by the Suns
Positions:
Current: PF/C,
NBA: PF/C,
Possible: PF/C
Quick Stats:
11.9 Pts, 4.9 Rebs, 0.5 Asts


Paul Millsap
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 7"
Weight: 258 lbs.
Birthday: 02/12/1985
29 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Grambling
Previous Team: Louisiana Tech , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #17 in 2006 Draft
by the Jazz
Positions:
Current: PF,
NBA: PF,
Possible: PF
Quick Stats:
17.9 Pts, 8.5 Rebs, 3.1 Asts


Rodney Stuckey
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 4"
Weight: 207 lbs.
Birthday: 04/21/1986
27 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Kentwood
Previous Team: Eastern Wash. , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #15 in 2007 Draft
by the Pistons
Positions:
Current: PG/SG,
NBA: PG/SG,
Possible: SG
Quick Stats:
13.9 Pts, 2.3 Rebs, 2.1 Asts


Ryan Thompson
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 5"
Weight: 214 lbs.
Birthday: 06/09/1988
25 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Lenape
Previous Team: Oostende , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: SG/SF,
NBA: SG,
Possible: SG/SF
Quick Stats:
16.5 Pts, 2.8 Rebs, 2.2 Asts


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