The USC basketball class for 2014 will add its biggest piece in terms of size Thursday afternoon when 6-9 forward James Thompson of Parkview Baptist High School in Baton Rouge, LA signs with the Gamecocks. Thompson visited USC a couple of weeks ago and his coach announced Wednesday that he had chosen the Gamecocks over offers from LSU, Kansas State, Memphis, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.
“It just kind of worked out,” coach Don Green said. “The timing of it. The opportunity to play. The fact that James was somewhat always interested in going out of state to play. All the stars aligned and it just worked out for both parties.”
USC assistant coach Perry Clark, who once was the coach at Tulane and is a Louisiana native, knew of Thompson from his days in New Orleans and got the ball rolling with Thompson in November. Thompson reciprocated with his official visit to Columbia and the Gamecocks not only sold Thompson on joining them, they also won over his father.
“He (dad) just thought the coaching staff was very up front with them about the possibilities of having the chance to come and contribute,” Green said. “That opportunity plus the staff plus the similarities of the schools (USC and Parkview Baptist) just really played well with James and the dad and after that it was just a matter of coming to the realization that that was a place that’s going to be good for him.”
Last season Thompson averaged 18 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks per game and his coach expects him to play in more of a supportive role as a freshman as he learns the college game.
“I think is learning curve will be quick,” the coach said. “He fully understands he needs to come in and work because he’s been promised nothing except for an opportunity to play at an up and coming program and what he does from there is going to be on him. I think he understands that and is looking to contribute any way that he can.”
Green adds that Thompson’s high energy level on the court is a major asset as he’s always active around the rim.
“He’s a very good offensive rebounds and an excellent defensive rebounder as well and shot blocker,” the coach said. “He runs the court like a guard. He can finish pretty strongly. He’s going to have to learn how to go out on the perimeter and play out there some. I think he can be as good as he wants to be.”
Green said Thompson actually liked football more than basketball early on but he grew so much he made the move over to hoops. He is a three time 3A all state selection and the MVP of his district three of the last four years.
“I think he’s going to be a better college player than he ever was in high school,” Green said. “I look forward to him having a good future there.”
Thompson is USC’s fourth commitment for the 2014 class.