We continue our look at the 2012-2013 Ohio State Buckeyes men's basketball team by taking a look at sophomore forward Sam Thompson.
2010-2011 Whitney Young High School Stats: 17.6 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 5.5 APG, 3.3 BPG, 2.0 SPG
2011-2012 Ohio State University Stats: 2.1 PPG, 1 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.4 BPG, 0.2 SPG
A Look Back:
Sam Thompson came to an Ohio State team with a lot of talent on the court. The Buckeyes, after all, would end up making it all the way to the Final Four before losing a tough game to Kansas in the final minutes. The road to the Final Four actually included Thompson, who played in every single game for Ohio State last year. That made him the only freshman on the team to do so, as well as being one of the six total Buckeyes that saw action in every game. So what made Thompson so special? The 6'7", 200-pound
wide receiver forward provides not only a big body on the court, but also a longevity of his arms that is completely insane.
Throughout the entire season, Thompson would come off the bench to provide a certain type of spark for his teammates that not many are capable of. Alongside his amazing dunking ability, Thompson also added 17 blocks during the 2011-2012 season. There's a common cliche in basketball, "You can't teach tall". You certainly cannot, which is part of what makes Thompson so valuable. Basketball is a sport where if you're lacking in the tape measure department, you'd be better be a damn good defender (lookin' your way, Aaron Craft #swoon) or be able to move the ball better than anyone else on the court.
Thompson's size and athletic ability help his chances of landing on a starting position at the wing. His competition is LaQuinton Ross who stands at 6'8", 220-pounds. Both are juniors and each have the ability to start or play meaningful minutes. Head coach Thad Matta has said recently that he will start "the best defenders" when asked about who would be playing alongside Aaron Craft, Deshaun Thomas and Lenzelle Smith Jr. It's a nice problem to have, when having to make the tough call between Ross and Thompson.
Outlook for 2012-2013:
With as much talent that both Sam Thompson and LaQuinton Ross have, I wouldn't be surprised to see a season-long battle for that starting role between the two. That spells out good news for head coach Thad Matta, who is counting on his sophomore class to step up and fill the gaps left by William Buford and Jared Sullinger. Thompson's role will be essential to the success of the Buckeyes, whether he's starting or not. There's no reason he shouldn't be able to play a pivotal role in this year's team.
Best Case Scenario:
Sam Thompson beats out LaQuinton Ross due to his better defensive standing and averages a near double-double for a majority of the season, continuing his reign as "the best dunker in America" and taking more spots in ESPN's nightly Top Ten plays.
Worst Case Scenario: LaQuinton Ross wins the starting spot, while Sam Thompson comes of the bench for solid minutes during the season, yet still providing highlights galore. In all honesty, there probably isn't really a terrible worst case scenario for Thompson, he's simply too athletic for him not to be on the court for meaningful minutes.