By Ty Schadt, Sports Editor
Some things just feel right. For Asbury junior Trent Thompson, it’s the leather grip of a basketball on his finger tips and the crowd’s triumphant roar as it passes through the net. Most times, if things feel right, they start to look right. Because of the feeling he gets from putting the ball through the hoop, Thompson was able to accomplish something only 18 other Asbury basketball players ever have: scoring 1,000 career points. But here’s the thing—Thompson’s still got a season and a half to add to that total.
The 6-foot-6-inch forward came to Asbury from Cynthiana, Ky., and served as a scoring spark off the bench until he began starting halfway through his freshman season. The Eagles finished that year a tad below .500 and got bounced in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. It was a disappointing end to an inconsistent season; however, an outlier to the inconsistency was Thompson’s scoring. He averaged 15 points a game until February rolled around, when the freshman exploded for totals of 35, 23 and 35 in three consecutive games to close out his first campaign as an Eagle. Even though the team was ousted from the tournament earlier than it would have liked, it became clear there was a star forming.
Coach Will Shouse was excited to unleash Thompson the following season. After only attempting 57 three pointers his freshman year, Thompson fired 194 as a sophomore, leading to an incredible spike in his scoring. He poured in nearly 21 points a game, working in an offense tailored to high scoring and quick possessions. “That’s what I like to do: get buckets,” Thompson said.
It was anything but a sophomore slump, as Thompson also improved as a rebounder and defender, grabbing five boards a game and blocking 53 shots over the course of the season. His game was becoming more complete, and Asbury benefitted, raising their overall record to 16-14. However, they were again bounced in the conference quarterfinal. Despite the early exit, Thompson received All-Conference awards and an All-American honorable mention. The star had arrived.
This success didn’t come without some adversity, though. Thompson’s knees nagged him all season, a problem he attributed to weight. As a high schooler, the Harrison County standout broke a kneecap, which hindered his career in numerous ways. “I gained somewhere around 20-30 pounds extra and that kind of slowed my game down a whole lot,” Thompson said. “I carried that over into college, and then gained another ten my freshman year.”
Now a junior, Thompson described his 230-pound sophomore self’s physique as “heavyset.” So, entering last summer, he had a conversation with Shouse in which the two decided Thompson should spend the break partaking in a sugarless diet. In turn, Thompson lost 30 pounds. “That’s really helped me,” said Thompson. “I’m lighter on my feet, quicker and can jump higher. My knees don’t hurt anymore.”
Although he’s early into his junior season, Thompson’s tremendous efforts have paid off. In just the third game this fall, Thompson netted his 1,000th career point in a win over Wright State Lake. Typically, if a player reaches this achievement he does so in the twilight of his Asbury career; however, in Thompson’s case, he’s still got a season and half to keep scoring.
His numbers should continue to come in bunches. Instead of playing in the post like he has in the past, this season Thompson’s operating on the wing, which gives him more opportunities to handle the ball and create shots for himself. So far, he’s averaging 25 points per game, a mark that is sixth in the conference.
However, what may be as beneficial to his game as any diet or positional tweak is his relationship with Shouse, a fellow member of the 1,000-point club. The two trust each other, and Thompson claims he’s in his coach’s office “at least twice a day” to talk basketball and life in general.
Perhaps it was over one of these visits that the possibility of playing professionally overseas came up, something Thompson said is one of his career goals: “I don’t want to see the day when basketball ends; I’m going to push it as far as I can.”
Pro ball is something at least one Asbury alum has experience with; former guard Phillip Morrison ‘11 bounced around professional teams in Singapore and Vietnam for seven years before returning to America and becoming a full-time trainer. Thompson believes Morrison will prove instrumental in helping him condition for life overseas, to which Morrison agrees. “His ability to score and shoot will translate well,” said the former AU standout, who is also a member of the 1,000-point club.
Shouse has the utmost confidence in Thompson’s ability to make it professionally as well. “Trent is a positionless player which makes him hard to guard,” he said. “Overseas it’s a lot of high ball screens with the big man being able to step out and shoot—that’s Trent to a tee.”
With big aspirations and time left in college to continue proving himself, just how much higher is Thompson’s ceiling? Asbury’s all-time leading scorer is Jason Price ‘00 with 2,865 points. That’s definitely up there, but if this trend of scoring continues, there’s no telling how close Thompson could get to that mark. In an offense that’s built around his abilities, the possibilities are endless. Each season, his game takes a new step; perhaps in the next he could be reaping the benefits of everything he’s sown and climbing the ladder of Asbury’s all-time leading scorers rung by rung.