Indiana basketball has found its secret star and it’s Race Thompson thanks to his much-needed toughness and energy.
In a tumultuous season filled with hills of joy and valleys of sorrow, there have been few constants for Indiana basketball. When fans take their seat at Assembly Hall or on their couch at home to watch the Hoosiers play, they usually have no idea which team is going to show up.
One constant, however, has been sophomore forward Race Thompson.
Thompson’s numbers don’t catch the eye at all as 3.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game are not exactly supreme totals. He only averages 12.1 minutes a game to pair with those dull stats, too.
But when Thompson plays, he makes his minutes count. Thompson has a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 20.5, second on the team only to Trayce Jackson-Davis (29.7).For comparison, here is how Thompson’s PER stacks up against the other players on the Hoosiers roster:
Trace Jackson-Davis: 29.7
Race Thompson: 20.5
Devonte Green: 17.0
Joey Brunk: 16.0
Justin Smith: 15.9
Al Durham: 14.9
There have been several times this season where Thompson has been the best player on the floor for Indiana. He dramatically affected the game against Michigan State, recording four points, four rebounds, two blocks, two steals, and an assist in just 11 minutes before leaving with an injury. On Wednesday, the Minnesotan showed out at his old stomping grounds, playing 25 minutes and coming one point shy of a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
One of the main reasons why Thompson has had such success this season is that he always gives maximum effort. This team is full of people who give inconsistent effort, but Thompson cannot be counted amongst that group. He goes hard 100 percent of the time, and has earned the respect of many IU fans for that very reason.
Thompson has only played over 20 minutes three times this season, against Princeton very early in the year, and against Iowa and Minnesota (two times in the last week). Coincidentally, all three of those games were victories.
It appears that Archie Miller may have something special in Race Thompson. He is exactly what the Hoosiers need as they face a tough and uncertain path to the NCAA Tournament. Miller can put Thompson on the court and never have to question what he will be gaining from it. Thompson is an overshadowed and grossly underestimated rock for this team.
It is my hope that Race Thompson continues to see more minutes down the stretch. If he keeps up this level of play, perhaps he could even find himself in the starting lineup, although that is unlikely to happen. Regardless, it is quite possible that Indiana’s ticket to March lies in the hands of Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson.
Thompson gets another chance to show what he’s made of against No. 9 Penn State this Sunday.