Thompson Boys Basketball: Young and Ready
There’s a youth movement happening within the Thompson boys basketball program. Youth is often coupled with inexperience, yet that won’t be a problem for DJ Black going into his second year as head coach of the Warriors.
Thompson returns lone senior Masiah Robinson, but underclassmen like Jay Green, Colben Landrew and Daeshaun Morrisette all bring back varsity experience from last year. Even with so much youth, what sets this team apart is their cerebral approach to the game. Their understanding is already very advanced and puts the Warriors at an advantage before they even hit the hardwood.
“The basketball IQ is at a very high level this year, we’ve had college programs come in and say ‘You guys are doing things we’re trying to teach our incoming freshman how to do and that’s fun to hear and great feedback, as a coach,” says Black. “But it’s not me, it’s these guys. They have bought into playing the right way.”
Coach Black also credits his team on their preparation and the work they do in their free time leading up to game day. This allows the coaching staff to teach advanced concepts in practices and focus on the plan of attack against the next opponent.
“We don’t have to install anything anymore, we’ve got the whole package in,” says Black. “These guys know the language, if we see something there’s a very quick adjustment and that says a lot about these young men. They watch a ton of film.”
Thompson’s roster has a wide range of sizes and skill sets. They possess length and size in the post, but also speed and veteran savvy on the perimeter. The Warriors will be quite the matchup challenge for anyone on the schedule.
“You asked what our identity is and it’s whatever the game dictates,” said Black. “If it’s going to be an up tempo game or if we need to slow it down and grind it out these guys can do that. It’s going to be what the defense shows us then, boom, we adjust and we can play a whole bunch of different styles.”
A lot is being made of the talent this team has coming down the pipe, but talent only speaks to the potential of the group. Coach Black believes his Warriors are capable of taking that potential and fleshing it out in real life.
“We’ve got a very deep, talented team and I️ hate to use the word talent a lot because it’s just a word—I️ love production,” says Black. “You can say they’re talented, but produce, and I️ think this team is ready to put that product on the floor.”
Thompson is also looking forward to something they’ve been missing for several years: height. Starting center Carson McKenny has grown to 6’7” and is joined by Landrew and Jared Smith who each stand at 6’6” each on the front line. Coach Black is also big on 6’4” freshman Cam Pritchett who played some varsity ball toward the end of last season as well.
Thompson’s Area 5 is, without a doubt, the deepest in the state. It includes the defending champion Hoover, preseason #1 ranked Vestavia Hills and top 10 pick Tuscaloosa County. Black’s coaching staff have put together a schedule that will match the quality of that competition and get them ready for the battles to come in January and February.
“Really excited for this season, we have a very challenging schedule for these guys,” says Black. “I’m going to test these guys early and they’re going to test themselves early. It’s going to be fun and they’re a good group to coach.”
The expectations and standards at Thompson don’t change and while wins on the court are the goal, Coach Black and his staff want to provide opportunities and development for their players.
“Ultimately, yes we want to win a state championship and the next game, but I️ want these guys to win not only on the court but in life too,” says Black. “I️ want guys to have options and scholarships when they graduate and moving forward that’s my goal and I’ll put the effort in to get these guys where they’re trying to get to and it’s reciprocated.”
Thompson has all the components of a team that can challenge the big dogs in Class 7A and a roster that will play with and learn from each over the next several years. The Warriors may be a big factor a lot sooner than people think.