Mike Woodson gives Race Thompson a chance to stand on the court-inside the hall – NBA Sports

Mike Woodson is not the type of coach who draws past conclusions based solely on what the player has done in the past. “I don’t want them to be pigeon holes,” he says. Still, Woodson does his research and asks others to better understand who he teaches. This is exactly what he did shortly after he got a job in Indiana in the spring.

It was around that time that he asked some of the current coaches who didn’t name Race Thompson. The response left Woodson somewhat surprised.

“Well, he can’t handle the ball well,” Woodson recalls hearing.

“Maybe you don’t want him to handle it,” Woodson recalls.

“You can’t jump to the floor,” Woodson remembers saying.

In high school, these were all characteristics that Thompson displayed in relative frequency. He handled the ball. He turned to the basket. According to the IU website, Thompson scored 45% of his 3 points when he was in his third year at Armstrong High School in Minnesota.

In Indiana, these aspects were rare. His ability to show off his surrounding aptitude is limited by his roster and style of play. He tried only 28 3 pointers in 3 seasons and made only 6. In his first two seasons, he played in the post with Justin Smith in three. And it sacrificed having floor spacing due to glass domination. Last season, Thompson and Trace Jackson Davis were both natural power forwards and were forced to play throughout the season in a center-by-committee with Joey Brun.

“Our attacks were quite different,” Thompson said. “It’s not that I couldn’t do that. It was just that role I was in. I was really focused on doing my best in that role.”

Woodson knows this, so a spring conversation about Thompson’s limited skill set remains in his mind. Woodson didn’t believe what he was hearing at the time. He doesn’t believe them now.

“My job and your job as a coach for my staff is to get him to do that,” Woodson said. “That’s what we do as coaches.”

As he enters his senior season, Thompson’s career in India is at the crossroads of many fascinating stories. He was Archie Miller’s first commitment in India, but is now the only player left from that first 2017 class. The mirror is gone. Thompson has played for Indiana for three seasons but has yet to demonstrate his full skill set. Being intangible, he could be one of India’s most valuable players of the season, but it’s unclear if he can fit into Woodson’s open playing style.

However, there was a time when Thompson was unlikely to even reach Indiana.

In his third year of high school, Thompson attended a basketball camp and paired with a junior roommate named Trace Jackson Davis. Not surprisingly, Jackson-Davis from Indiana asked Thompson if the Hoogers were looking for him.

“Yes,” Jackson-Davis recalls what Thompson said.

However, about a month later, after establishing a relationship with the coaching staff and visiting the campus, Thompson devoted himself to Indiana. After reclassifying and using that year for his red shirt, Thompson was a roll player off the bench in the first two seasons and had some memorable moments when he fought multiple injuries.

Thompson was nominated as team captain last season and his toughness played a huge role, as remarkable as his statistics. He started 27 games and scored 9.1 points per game, making him the sixth best scorer in the Big Ten. He also averaged 6.2 rebounds per game. I had facial surgery in February, but I didn’t miss a single match. When Indiana lost six games to finish the season, Thompson often returned to the court after the contest to shoot additional free throws. At such a moment, Jackson-Davis immediately brought up Thompson’s name when asked by Woodson, who should be captain this season.

“I’m a tough guy,” Thompson said when asked what he had learned about himself. “There are good days and bad days. If you can survive the worst, the best is great.”

Thompson entered the forwarding portal this offseason after Miller was fired. However, he soon built a relationship of trust with Woodson. Woodson called him almost every day. During those conversations, Woodson didn’t promise an opportunity to play on the border, and he didn’t downplay it. According to Thompson, the general message is “I want you to play basketball,” no more, no less.

“I said that before: I don’t know how to say no to Woodson,” Thompson said. “I don’t care who you are.”

This offseason, Woodson has focused on helping Thompson rekindle the diversity he showed in high school. He creates Thompson’s play to play around, off the pin-down screen, as well as the post. During a film session a few weeks ago, Woodson continued to rewind the play and asked Thompson, “What do you want me to do here?” Thompson replied, “Shoot.” Woodson kept asking until Thompson said loud enough.

“He handles the ball every day, heads to the basket and gives him more and more confidence in playing the game,” Thompson said.

Thompson played three to three times in two exhibition games in the Bahamas this summer. Like Jackson-Davis, Thompson doesn’t have to be a deadly shooter to be effective in Woodson’s system. Rather, he needs to be honest in his defenses and take enough shots to keep the driving lane open. With the addition of 7-foot Michael Dahl, Thompson should be able to play four more regularly this season.

There is no guarantee that Thompson will eventually become the versatile player he and Woodson envision. But at least Woodson gives him a chance to become the man. And at this point, that may be all Thompson needs.

Submission destination: Mike Woodson, Lace Thompson

– NBA Sports

Mike Woodson gives Race Thompson a chance to stand on the court-inside the hall Mike Woodson gives Race Thompson a chance to stand on the court-inside the hall

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