By Joe Henricksen
Whitney Young star Sam Thompson ended his recruitment Sunday with a verbal commitment to coach Thad Matta and Ohio State. Thompson, among the top prospects in a loaded Class of 2011 and a national recruit over the past two years, chose the Buckeyes over the likes of Florida and Oregon State in the end, along with a long list of initial high-major suitors.
"I have always liked Ohio State," said Thompson, who first visited the Columbus campus last October on an unofficial visit and officially visited last weekend. "I knew going into my official visit that Ohio State was my favorite. The official visit confirmed it for me after sitting down with coach Matta and seeing how I fit in and the direction they are heading. I watched them all this past season and I am just a fan of the way coach Matta's teams play. I'm really excited."
Over the past two years the Hoops Report has often compared Thompson to former UNLV and NBA player Stacey Augmon, due to his versatility and the potential to be an impact, difference-making player on the defensive end. The 6-6 Thompson is a superior athlete, with long arms, wiry frame, great bounce and explosiveness off the floor. He can be a stat sheet filler with steals, blocks, points and rebounds. As his perimeter skills progress, which has included an improved perimeter jumper, Thompson will become the prototypical small forward that could set him apart from other true wings.
Thompson has battled some injuries over the past year, including missing a portion of the second half of last season. Prior to the injury, Thompson played perhaps his best basketball at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament. In the championship game win over Foreman, Thompson scored a game-high 26 points and tallied 11 rebounds.
"I am so anxious to get back on the floor," said Thompson, who battled an ankle injury last winter and an injury to his quad this past summer. "The injuries have been frustrating. For the first time in a long time I am going to be completely healthy for an entire season. I am doing a lot of things to get my body ready and taking care of my body."
In two years Thompson has been part of a state championship team in 2009 and a state runner-up team last March. As a sophomore, Thompson contributed 6 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks in the state title game victory over Waukegan. A year ago in 20 games, Thompson averaged 10 points, 8.3 rebounds and over 3 assists a game for the 24-win Dolphins.
"The goal is to get back to the championship game and bring another state title to Whitney Young," said Thompson.
Ohio State can only hope it receives as much fortune in Thompson as it did the last time they plucked a player out of Illinois -- St. Joseph's Evan Turner, who was an All-American and No. 2 pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in last June's NBA Draft.