USA TODAY Sports
Blackman High senior Darius Thompson committed to Vanderbilt this weekend and will sign with the Commodores in the spring signing period. Thompson is the second of the two man class of 2013 and will join Center Damien Jones as a freshman next season.
Highlight video here: Highlights
More highlights (plays #10, 9, and #1): Highlights 2
For more context, here is every play Thompson was involved in during last season’s Div III quarterfinal game against Memphis East: Playoff Game
First off a discussion of Thompson’s game – the thing that stands out most is Darius’ ballhandling, which appears to be excellent. He seems to be very much in control of what he wants to do with the ball and where he wants to go, and is able to use a crossover, behind the back and can change direction quite well all while keeping his dribble. He is a very creative passer and has excellent court vision. Very nice touch on his passes, especially to players running on the break, but overall has a good feel for where his teammates are and possesses the ability to get them the ball in a position to score.
His jump-shot looks odd, like he is releasing it as he is on the way down – somewhat reminiscent of Tayshawn Prince’s jumper. This year’s stats indicate that he is shooting 39% from 3 and 71% from the line – the latter number being decent, and also an indication that his form, while unorthodox, is not likely an impediment to his becoming a good shooter. Thompson’s size is very nice for his overall skills, as he is taller than your typical point guard, and can likely play at either wing spot if required. His overall athleticism is also above average, as he appears to have decent speed and good leaping ability (though not overwhelming). Overall, I like his potential, but the combination of his size and ballhandling/passing abilities are probably the most exciting thing about his game.
Now we get to where he fits into the overall picture – here is a breakdown of the team next season (assuming no transfers – positions are primary but not exclusive):
SR – Odom(PF), Fuller(PG)
JR – Johnson(PG), Parker(SG), Moats(PF), Henderson(C), Siakam(SF)
SO – Jeter(SF), Bright(SF), Astroth(SG), McClellan(PG)
FR – Jones(C), Thompson(PG)
It is interesting to see while we are a bit light in the post (with only two true center and two true PF’s), we elected to go with a PG in this class. It is also interesting to see how CKS will have a true PG in each class next season, though three of the four will be “bigger” PG’s, around 6’-4”. I believe that while it would have been ideal to get another post player, that having versatile players who can pass and dribble is a good backup plan. Seeing how our lack of these skill on the previous two teams really limited their overall play, (especially our ability to handle pressure), we are now taking a different approach, and one that can be successful, with the addition of a post player who can finish with authority.
While there may not be as much NBA talent as was on the previous team, the overall talent level is still very high (relative to traditional VU teams) and we have a chance to be an exceptionally good defensive team next year. We can look to have a much improved offense as well, with the addition of two players with PG level passing and ballhandling skills. As far as I can tell, this season is beginning to look more like a one year blip due to the mass exodous from a season ago. We will not be as badly affected in three season, when the current sophomore class moves on.