Credit - IU Athletics

Indiana basketball 2020-21 player previews: Race Thompson

The 2020-21 Indiana University men’s basketball season is right around the corner.  To help get you ready, The Daily Hoosier is profiling every scholarship player on the IU roster.  Indiana’s season is expected to begin on Nov. 25.


Indiana’s version of beast mode arrived in 2019-20, and he may just be getting warmed up.

Race Thompson brought a tenacious, gritty style in his third year in Bloomington and first extensive action as a Hoosier.

Now the Minnesota native is looking to cement an even bigger role as IU fans are hoping that he has only scratched the surface of his promising potential.

ESSENTIALS

Race Thompson

  • Height:  6-foot-8
  • Weight:  228
  • Position:  Forward
  • Class:  Redshirt Junior
  • Hometown:  Plymouth, Minn.
  • High School:  Armstrong

2019-20 STATISTICS

  • Minutes per game:  13.7
  • Points per game:  3.7
  • Rebounds per game:  3.9
  • Assists per game:  .4
  • Blocks per game:  .7
  • Steals per game:  .7
  • FG%:  46.3%
  • 3FG%:  30.0
  • FT%:  65.9%
Credit – IU Athletics

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

Head coach Archie Miller on Thompson —

“You need guys that are willing to stick their nose in there and do it, and that’s what Race gives us.” Miller said of Thompson’s physical style on the court during the 2019-20 season.

Al Durham on Thompson —

“I feel like Race has stepped up tremendously this year and become more of an outspoken leader, whether that be on the court or off the court,” Durham said this summer.  “Race has really stepped into a role of leadership with the younger guys and taken them under his wing – teaching them how to do certain things and showing them how we operate as a team. He’s been doing very well. Race has really done a good job with that and stepped his game up and his communication up tremendously.”

Trayce Jackson-Davis on playing with Thompson —

“When I’m at the five and he’s at the four, a big thing for us is we get out in transition a lot more,” Jackson-Davis said this fall. “Our speed or tempo goes up tremendously. And it’s not as clogged. I think we both move really well. And I think that’s that’s a big emphasis on my game, being able to have space to operate, and mid posts and posts.”

VIDEO

WHAT 2020-21 SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE

While the conversation about smaller, faster lineups leads many to think about the backcourt, it is equally about the direction IU is going with its frontcourt.

It goes without saying that the days of a Justin Smith, Joey Brunk, Trayce Jackson-Davis lineup are gone.

If the Hoosiers are going to have a faster, more versatile lineup, it starts with Race Thompson.

We don’t know what direction Archie Miller will go with his starting lineup on Wednesday night, but it is clear that Thompson will see a bigger role.  How big remains to be seen, and might depend on his ability to space the floor with a perimeter shot.

That’s something Thompson was known for in high school, and something he has been working on diligently during the offseason.

“I worked on my shot, like, every single day in quarantine,” Thompson said in October. “That’s something I’m thinking I’m trying to bring to the table this year.”

Trayce Jackson-Davis’ comment about the tempo and spacing that Thompson provides was one of the more revealing offseason comments we heard.

You already know Thompson for his effort and physicality, but if he can indeed help IU play faster while spacing the floor the Hoosiers could make real progress in 2020-21.

And don’t worry, Thompson intends to continue to bring his hard-nosed lunch-pail mentality.

“We’ll just continue to do the dirty work and all that stuff,” Thompson said.  “And just being a bigger part of the offense in general. So I’m not really too worried about scoring. I just really one of those persons who just does anything to get the win.”

The move towards giving Thompson more minutes began last season.

Over the last nine games Thompson played 19.5 minutes and averaged 5.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, .9 blocks and 1.3 steals per game.

What does a successful 2020-21 season look like?  24 mpg, 8.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 1.4 spg, 1 apg, 1 tpg, 50 fg%, 34 3fg% would highlight strong development and make Thompson and key part of Indiana’s main rotation.  Whether he starts remains to be seen, but as was the case late last year — Thompson is likely to be on the court at crunch time.

Of course much of what Thompson brings cannot be measured statistically.  Grit, physicality, toughness — those are all expected.  Durham mentioned a leadership role.  And Thompson is also a strong defender, with the ability to guard stretch fours, traditional power forwards and centers.

All of that should ensure Thompson’s significant role, and cement his status as a fan favorite.

MORE 2020-21 PREVIEWS


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