Sunday, July 10, 2011

Patience PJ – Good Things Coming For IU Prospect

PJ Thompson understands this patient thing. His time will come. College basketball scholarship offers will come his way, just as they have for Spiece Indy Heat teammates James Blackmon, Trey Lyles, Trevon Bluiett and Jaquan Lyle.

Recruiting is a fickle thing, just like dating. Sometimes it can be wonderful, sometimes frustrating, sometimes cruel.

At least, that’s the way we remember it.

Dating that is. College basketball was never part of our master plan.

Anyway, Thompson is a 5-10 guard with a lot of upside. He’s quick; he can shoot; he can handle the ball. But he’s not yet the second coming of Steve Nash or Deron Williams, which is true of most kids getting ready to enter their junior year in high school.

College coaches took a good, long look at Thompson during the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis. They’ll continue evaluating him during this busy July.

And then they will offer.

As for where he stands in the whole recruiting process right now, here’s what we know.

Blackmon and Lyles are committed to IU. In fact, they basically said “I will” a year ago, well before they’d even played a high school game. Bluiett has an offer from IU. Lyle has offers from IU, Purdue, Xavier and Illinois.

All Thompson has is interest, but it is impressive given that it’s coming from the Hoosiers, Purdue, Stanford, Notre Dame, Butler, Tennessee, Xavier and Ball State.

Is he frustrated?

Not exactly. It’s that patience and maturity thing he has going for him. You'd expect that from a guy, even a young guy, who has grown up in a rich basketball environment.

His father, LaSalle, played for Indianapolis Pike and Ball State. His grandfather played basketball. So did his great grandfather.

So if coaches aren't knocking down his door with offers, well, he has a treasure chest of family experience to draw from. Even practical experience considering all the time he puts in the gym working with his father.

“It’s still early for me,” he says. “I’m just a sophomore. Some of my teammates have committed, and good for them. I hope the best for them. They’ll do great where they committed. As for me, I’ll take the process slowly. I’ll weigh my options out. I have three more years to decide on a college. I want to make sure it’s a perfect fit for me.”

Thompson plays for Indianapolis Brebeuf High School when he’s not running the Spiece Indy Heat show. That mean he’s getting a ton of valuable experience year-round.

And here’s something else -- Spiece Indy Heat is good enough to be playing up a year, and playing well. Given at this age one year can make a huge difference in terms of physical and mental maturity, that’s impressive. The fact Thompson has such a large role for such a high-profile team bodes well for his future, and Spiece coach Reynardo Bluiett knows it. The coach praises Thompson’s high basketball IQ.

“A lot of times that gets overlooked,” he says. “He can give you different things on the court that makes us a better team.”

Thompson spends a lot of time on his own working to make himself better, which is what you find in any great player in any sport.

“He has worked on his lateral quickness,” Reynardo Bluiett says. “His basketball IQ makes up for a lot of that. He’s working on it daily. I know his routine. He’ll get better and better.”

The fact Thompson is playing with and competing against big-time talent will only accelerate that improvement. And the No. 1 priority, he says, is improving his leadership.

“Playing with all this talent, some of the top players in the country and top players in the state, leadership is a big thing. For me to stick out, I have to be a good leader and make plays for myself as well as my teammates.

Guys like Blackmon, Lyles, Trevon Bluiett and Lyle make that easy for him, he adds.

“I know if I make a good pass to them, they’ll knock the shot down.”

While college coaches haven’t offered him a scholarship yet, they are talking to him about what they want to see from him.

“Being able to be aggressive and make plays,” Thompson says. “Just making plays is what they want to see. Talking out there. Playing like you’re one of the best players on the court. Playing with confidence.”

Thompson tries to deliver and knowing that coaches such as Tom Crean, Matt Painter, Mike Brey and Brad Stevens are watching is inspiring.

“I get real excited and knowing all these coaches are watching makes us want to win even more and play better as a team.”

See, Thompson gets it. Because in the end, it’s all about winning. And when it comes to recruiting, he will.

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