History shows that Rick Barnes can bring difference-makers from across state lines into the Texas basketball program. NBA superstar Kevin Durant and most recently ESPN.com’s No. 1 ranked prospect in the 2009 class, Avery Bradley, fit the mold. With their biggest commitment in the 2010 class the Horns went not just outside of Texas but out of the country and will bring one of Canada’s biggest exports, ESPNU 100 selection Tristan Thompson, to Austin next fall.
What the Horns will be getting in Thompson is a player widely regarded as a talent who could have an impact similar to Durant’s during his one year at Texas. Thompson is long and athletic and while his face up game is improving to go along with a solid mid range game, his forte is finishing at the rim and being able to finish in traffic. Thompson also provides a shot blocking presence on the defensive end of the floor and he can also get out and run.
The 6-foot-9 Thompson, who currently ranks No. 11 on the ESPNU 100, has been committed to Texas for 18 months and the Findlay (Nev.) Prep standout made his official visit to Texas over the weekend, a visit that went very well to say the least according to Thompson.
“It went real well,” Thompson said of the visit. “The football game went well. It was great. I got to hang out with the players, especially Avery (Bradley) and Dexter Pittman.”
Thompson played together with Bradley last season at Findlay and that, along with the fact that he has been committed to the Horns since his sophomore season, has built a strong sense of familiarity with the Texas program.
“By now, I know about everything about the university and program,” Thompson said. “I think I know as much as the players that are already on the team at this point. It’s never disappointing when I visit Texas.”
Thompson was accompanied on his visit by his Findlay teammate and close friend Cory Joseph, one of the nation’s top point guards and the No. 30 overall prospect on the ESPNU 100. Thompson and Joseph played last year at Findlay with Bradley and they also play on the same AAU team with Texas 2011 commit Myck Kabongo. Thompson said that Joseph’s visit went well and while he likes the idea of playing with his friend in college, he said that Joseph’s decision will be exclusively his own.
“The visit went well for Cory,” Thompson said. “We all showed him around and talked to him about Texas. It would be great to play with him in college, but it’s his decision.”
Thompson’s relationships with Bradley and Pittman are strong, but he has also gotten to know some other players in the program well and is also building a strong relationship with Barnes.
“I have a real good relationship with the coaches and players,” Thompson said. “I know Dex, Justin Mason and Avery really well. They are normally the guys that host me when I visit. Coach Barnes and I have a great relationship too. Our relationship is more than a player and coach. He’s like my father away from home.”
While Thompson will have to wait another year to suit up for Barnes, he can look forward to watching a Texas team this season that has aspirations of making it to the Final Four in the spring and possibly competing for a national championship. Bradley, Jordan Hamilton and Shawn Williams along with 2008 recruit J’Covan Brown, who will make his long awaited Longhorn debut this season, make up an impressive freshman class for Texas and Thompson likes what he sees from the four newcomers.
“That freshman class is really talented,” Thompson said. “They have four guys that are real talents. J’Covan (Brown) was impressive. He’s better that I thought he was. He hasn’t been talked about as much as others because of his situation, but I was pretty impressed. Having all of those guys on the court is going to give Texas a chance to be in the Final Four.” Also see: Barnes and Co. Get Visit From 2010 G Cory Joseph