After sitting out a season due to NCAA transfer rules, sophomore center Trevor Thompson is the heir-apparent to the departed duo of Amir Williams and Trey McDonald. Thompson, who transferred from Virginia Tech after his freshman season, is the only center on the Ohio State roster with any college playing time, and should be near the top of the rotation, along with four-star freshman Daniel Giddens, and redshirt freshman Dave Bell.
Thompson was a three-star recruit coming out of Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis, and took a development year after graduation before committing to Virginia Tech. He described his transfer to Ohio State as "the perfect fit" of academics, fans, teammates and coaching staff. He also has three years of eligibility remaining, which, coupled with strong play, could bring relief to Ohio State fans who have not seen a strong big man since the departure of Jared Sullinger.
A look back:
Thompson was a one-year letter winner in high school before going on to a post-grad year at St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Wisconsin. Not highly recruited out of high school, Thompson continued to improve during his time at St. Johns, and was the first member of Virginia Tech’s 2013 recruiting class, having signed in Sept. 2012. He was looked at mostly based on his size, but as his basketball IQ improved, so did his recruiting status.
The 6-foot-11, 250-pound center played in 30 of 31 games for Virginia Tech, including 10 starts, and averaged five points and 4.7 rebounds. He continued to grow and develop during his time at Virginia Tech, and his minutes increased throughout the season.
Arguably, Thompson’s best game came against No. 6 Duke on the road 15 late into the 2013-14 season, where he scored 15 points and had six rebounds. He also had four games with more than 10 rebounds, including two double-doubles.
Thompson spent the 2014-15 season at Ohio State sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules, having been denied his appeal to start playing immediately following his transfer. Ohio State probably could have used him last season, given Anthony Lee's health issues and the uneven play of Amir Williams and Trey McDonald, but now the path has been cleared for Thompson to play an even bigger role.
Outlook for 2015-16:
Thompson is one of seven new Buckeyes coming to Ohio State, including five true freshmen and redshirt freshman Bell. Any player with experience to complement Mark Loving and Jae’Sean Tate would be valued, and to a degree, Thompson brings that to the center position.
It seems likely that Thomson will start at center, at least to begin the season. After sitting out a year, Thompson has had time to learn the system at Ohio State, which gives him an early advantage over the freshman Giddens, and he has more upside as a player than Bell. It's also likely that he'll split time with Giddens throughout the season, but their playing styles are a little different (Thompson is probably more developed offensively than Giddens, while Giddens may be a better rim protector right away), and there will be plenty of time to figure out the rotation. Even if the doesn't start, Thompson should see significant minutes and play an important role on this roster.
Best case scenario:
Though unproven for the most part, Thompson has the opportunity to bring back the role of the big man to Ohio State in order to complement much stronger guard play. He brings solid rebounding skills to the Buckeyes, which could be improved, but which will play a critical role considering Ohio State has lost the players responsible for more than 60 percent of last season’s rebounds. Thompson's rebounding and opportunistic offense provides cover for inexperience all over the court, and sets the stage for what could be a very compelling big man rotation next season.
Worst case scenario:
Thompson hasn’t played a meaningful basketball game in more than a year, and it shows this season. Thompson loses whatever incumbent advantage he had, and is supplanted by Daniel Giddens in the rotation, and his inability to defend at a Thad Matta level limits his ability to get big minutes this season. Dave Bell's role increases, and Ohio State plays small even more often to compensate for Thompson's inability do to much this year.