J.T. Thompson , who committed last week for the 2008 class of basketball recruits, is a player in the midst of a major overhaul of his game. One year ago, I just didn’t see him as ever being able to make the transition to the perimeter and was not sure he would be anything other than an undersized power forward best, playing at a lower level. But his improvement away from the basket has been striking.
J.T. is a very athletic and strong power player along the baseline right now; he can finish in a crowd and among taller players, due to his strength. He really navigates the baseline well and uses the rim cleverly to shield players. He rebounds offensively and then can go back up to score, getting his share of three point plays. It helps that he is 6-6 and 215-pounds and he plays to his strength.
The concern will be if he can do that at the ACC level or make the move to a wing. I didn’t see that wing move as a viable option a year ago, but now, after a splendid spring and summer in AAU ball, he has really worked on those things and is markedly better. He has been one of probably the top five players in the country as far as improving his value and reputation nationally this spring and summer. J.T. performed very well at the NBA camp in June against some top echelon players, and this reclassified year [he is transferring and repeating his junior year, a process called “reclassifying” in recruiting] puts him over the top, because he now has two more years at the high school level to polish those perimeter skills.
J.T. is more comfortable inside 15 feet right now, but he has developed a nice face up jumper from the free throw area that he can make, and he has really developed recently in being able to get off his perimeter jumpers. He uses the shot fake extremely well to get defenders off their feet, then uses the one bounce dribble to get off a 15-19 foot jumper. He just isn’t finishing those shots at a high level right now. I think as he continues to work on his jumper he will be able to knock those down, because the rotation is good enough and the stroke and release look...
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