That’s A Wrap: Race Thompson

  • 04/20/2022 9:24 am in

Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our player-by-player recap of the 2021-2022 Indiana Hoosiers. Our player recaps conclude today with a look at Race Thompson.

Thompson (35 games): 11.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, .7 blocks, 53.6 FG%, 27.3 3PFG%, 65.2 FT% in 28.5 minutes per game.

Previously: Logan DuncombTamar BatesAnthony LealTrey GallowayJordan GeronimoKhristian LanderTrayce Jackson-DavisParker StewartXavier JohnsonMichael DurrMiller Kopp, Rob Phinisee

It’s not hard to see why Race Thompson has grown into a fan favorite over his five years in Bloomington.

Thompson’s development from a lightly used player as a redshirt freshman to a centerpiece of an NCAA tournament team is the result of hard work and perseverance.

The 6-foot-8 forward was Archie Miller’s first recruit in the summer of 2017. He reclassified from the 2018 class to 2017 with the intent of redshirting while some nagging injuries from high school healed. Thompson watched from the Assembly Hall sidelines as the Hoosiers finished 16-15 and didn’t reach the postseason in his first season.

As a redshirt freshman, Thompson barely played due to injuries but showed off his potential in a critical double-overtime win over Wisconsin. With Justin Smith, Juwan Morgan and De’Ron Davis all in foul trouble, Thompson came off the bench and logged 22 minutes against Ethan Happ and grabbed seven rebounds in the upset victory.

Over the last three seasons, Thompson has developed into a reliable stalwart in Indiana’s frontcourt. This past season was his most productive as a Hoosier as his role increased and his efficiency also improved.

The Minnesota native entered the transfer portal in the spring of 2021 after Miller was fired, but after getting to know Mike Woodson, opted to return and try to help the Hoosiers break their NCAA tournament drought.

“I don’t know how you could say no to Coach Woodson,” Thompson said about his decision to return to Indiana. “I don’t care who you are.”

Thompson rewarded Woodson’s confidence in him by shooting a career-high 59.7 percent on 2s and expanding his game on the perimeter, where he made 15 3-pointers. Over the last 16 games of the season, Thompson shot 11-of-26 (42.3 percent) from distance.

Among Big Ten players, Thompson had the 17th best offensive rating in the conference and the seventh-lowest turnover percentage at 9.1. He was also 20th in the conference in block percentage and improved his free throw percentage by nearly four percent.

He also showed progress as a rebounder, improving his defensive rebounding percentage from 17.5 to 21.6. In conference games, he was the ninth-best defensive rebounder in the league.

His steady play throughout the season was a major reason Indiana was able to win 21 games and reach March Madness for the first time in six years. After going through senior night festivities, it appeared Thompson would wrap up his Indiana career this spring, but he never closed the door completely on a return.

On April 14, Thompson announced that he would return for his sixth and final year at Indiana, which provides a major boost for Woodson and the coaching staff as they fill out the roster for the 2022-23 campaign with the hopes of another tournament appearance.

Bottom Line: Thompson was one of the best frontcourt players in the Big Ten this past season and he’ll once again be a key piece for the Hoosiers entering Woodson’s second season at the helm. If Trayce Jackson-Davis opts to return to Bloomington, look for Thompson and Jackson-Davis to once again play “buddy ball” next season around the basket. To help with floor spacing, Thompson will need to show that his last season 3-point shooting percentage was no fluke. If Jackson-Davis moves on, Thompson could see some time as a small-ball five. He’s certainly capable of holding his own defensively against bigger defenders in the post and is one of the better rebounders in the conference.

Quotable: “He’s come through, man. I mean, he’s doing a lot of wonderful things for this ballclub. Things that some people thought he couldn’t do, you know, when I got here and he’s gotten better because he’s put in the work and that’s a testament to him.” – Woodson on Thompson and the impact he had on Indiana’s team this past season.

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