If you are looking for a glimmer of good news during a five game losing streak, Indiana basketball head coach Archie Miller delivered it on Tuesday night.
After being out for more than 10 weeks with a concussion, redshirt freshman Race Thompson has been cleared to play.
Miller spoke regarding the 6-foot-8 forward on Tuesday night following the loss at Northwestern:
“Race has been cleared for this first time for full contact. He’s participated in our last few practices. It’s been about 10 weeks since he’s done anything. I don’t mean done anything, but obviously from an up and down basketball five on five he just started with that. He wasn’t going to be available to play tonight. Moving forward as he continues to practice we have to make a decision, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we go with Race here down the stretch if he can help us.”
Thompson has seen limited action in the 2018-19 season, appearing in just one game prior to the injury. He played four minutes and scored a basket in that game against Montana State.
Overall, it has been a long time since the Minnesota native has played significant minutes in game action.
Thompson graduated from high school in August, 2017 and decided to chart a unique course. Originally part of the class of 2018 when he committed, he came on board with an eye towards reclassifying into the class of 2017 and redshirting. Ultimately did Thompson did just that, thereby sitting out the 2017-18 season entirely.
Soon after graduating high school he was enrolled in classes in Bloomington, and since then he has been with the team working on his basketball skills and physical development mostly behind the scenes.
Thompson was expected to play a role on this year’s team. Miller said this about him before the season began:
“He’s not afraid to mix it up. He proved that last year in practice every day. He’ll get in there and rebound. He’ll get in there and bang. And he’s got a really good IQ in terms of being able to think the game where he can pass it. He can move it. He’s not an unskilled player in terms of not being able to play facing or with his back to the basket.
He’s got to shoot the ball, especially from the three-point line at certain times here in his career where that’s going to be his biggest gift is being able to stretch the floor because he’s not really above the rim, so to speak, around the basket.
As the season starts to evolve, hopefully offensively, his niche can start to be more of a perimeter face-up guy than he is more of a back-to-the-basket guy.”
Irrespective of how Thompson fits into the remainder of this season, this is clearly good news for him both personally and as a basketball player. Rumors had swirled that his season and perhaps even his career might be in jeopardy due to the severity of the concussion.
With Indiana struggling behind the three-point line and continuing to be challenged by injuries, and now suspensions, Thompson has the potential to come back and find minutes in a rotation that desperately needs more consistent perimeter shooting.
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