Deon Thompson is UNC’s forgotten man. The power forward toils behind the star-studded lineup Carolina’s vaunted current rotation – while also remaining buried underneath the looming shadows of Tar Heel Legends. Thompson labors in obscurity – overshadowed by Tyler Hansbrough, the face of college basketball, uber-quick point-guard sensation Tywon Lawson, and wing scorers Wayne Ellington and Danny Green. Of course, Thompson plays the position left vacant by freak athlete Brandon Wright – who bolted for the NBA Draft lottery after one season at Chapel Hill.
The junior forward may not even return as the official Big Man on Campus next season. The sure-fire mass NBA defections will be replaced with a diaper dandy crop of 4 McDonald’s All Americans along with emerging sophomore Ed Davis – recognized as UNC’s next Great post man.
Still, attention to detail wins Championships and Deon Thompson is the perfect complementary addition to UNC Basketball. The 6’8 power forward rarely has plays run for him – but he has mastered the art of playing off the ball and capitalizing off the defensive attention granted his teammates. Opposing rosters often shade towards doubling down on Hansbrough, staying home to close out on to perimeter threats Ellington and Green, and denying the ball from the dangerous Ty Lawson. These defensive tendencies leave Thompson as the odd man out.
Deon Thompson capitalizes with excellent hands to receive pinpoint interior passing and has developed a soft touch from 16 to 18 feet. Thompson is a solid offensive rebounder – craftily sneaking into the paint from the weak side to grab boards and power the basketball back into the basket for second-chance put backs. Offensively, Thompson is UNC’s garbage man.
Deon Thompson has increased his production in each of his three seasons at Carolina to average 11 points and 6 rebounds per game during 25 minutes of play this year.
Of greater importance to Carolina Basketball is his defense. Deon Thompson is a versatile defender that may effectively guard all frontcourt positions. According to Aran Smith of NBADraft.net, The 6’8 power forward is Blessed with long arms and a grand wing span that enables him to defend quicker players while also being able to bang down low in the paint and block shots. He has been taught by experience to use intelligent leverage and anticipation to stay on the floor and avoid foul trouble. Deon Thompson is Roy Williams lunch pail, blue collar forward that relishes the dirty work.
The player exhibited flashes of performing as a double-double machine during the first half of his junior season: 19 and 13 versus Notre Dame, 22 and 8 versus Oral Roberts, and 20 and 9 versus Kentucky.
Consistency is the problem for the soft-spoken Thompson. The forward must aggressively establish post position, seal his man, and demand the ball. Deon Thompson tends to defer to his teammates – but he must rail against the lack of defensive attention thrown his way as a brazen display of disrespect and seek to punish rivals for the scheme. Thompson has nearly disappeared into a non-factor offensively as the second-half of the 2009 regular season led into Atlantic Coast Conference play. The Torrence, CA product has scored less than ten points in 10 of the last 16 games and has not recorded 10 rebounds since the November 13 contest versus Notre Dame.
Marginal, 65% free-throw shooting is yet another issue.
Can Deon Thompson be counted upon to deliver in the clutch?
If not, Ed Davis is waiting in the wings to provide a spark, share frontcourt minutes, and dominate the paint as the Big Man on Campus Next Season.
Deon Thompson – UNC Power Forward, Sources:
Deon Thompson Profile, www.espn.com
Aran Smith, Deon Thompson Scouting Report, www.nbadraft.net
McDonald’s High School All-American Roster, http://www.mcdonaldsallamerican.com