After a very solid freshman year, Trey Thompkins
spent last summer with the U-19 National team at the World Championships in New Zealand where he finished as Team USAs leading scorer. Poised for a big year after his play in Auckland, he returned to a UGA program welcoming a new head coach and facing a bleak outlook in the SEC. Though the Bulldogs have struggled in Mark Foxs first season, that hasnt stopped Thompkins from having a breakout year, quietly emerging as a very legitimate NBA prospect, far from the national spotlight.
Thompkins development doesnt come as a major shock, as he was considered by analysts such as Scout.coms Dave Telep as a borderline McDonalds All-American coming out of high school. The 19 year old forward showed flashes of brilliance last season, displaying a high skill level and playing well despite the lingering effects of an offseason injury that hampered his conditioning all season long.
A talented inside-outside threat, Thompkins was able to make an impact around the basket while showing a promising post repertoire and budding catch and shoot game. This season, Thompkins has turned that potential into production thanks to improved consistency, a much sleeker physique, and a perfectly defined role in Mark Foxs offense.
Though Thompkins has done a tremendous job building his draft resume this season, he still has some limitations from an NBA perspective. His body looks considerably better than it did last season, and he has a very nice wingspan, but he still isnt terribly explosive, lacking the first step and leaping ability that would compensate for his average height. Possessing an average physical profile for an NBA power forward, Thompkins may not be an outstanding athlete, but his lack of physical tools is clearly overshadowed by his impressive scoring arsenal.
The biggest improvement Thompkins has made since last season lies in his ability (and willingness) to score with his back to the basket. Showing a knack for gaining position and making decisive moves to create space, Thompkins is converting 47.4% of his shots from the post, up from 41.2% last season according to Synergy Sports Technology.
When Thompkins is isolated on the block, his go-to-move is his turnaround jumper, which allows him to utilize his outstanding touch and features a very high release point something that will help his transition to the next level. When Thompkins doesnt see an opportunity to turn and shoot, he shows a nice up and under move, and has solid overall footwork. He shows a rare ability to throw the ball in off the glass, something you dont see from many players his age, and perfectly demonstrates how talented a scorer he truly is.
When Thompkins isnt showcasing his outstanding touch around the basket, Mark Fox has done an excellent job positioning him to operate one-on-one from the elbow or foul-line extended, similar to how many NBA power forwards are utilized in isolation situations. Thompkins regularly catches the ball on the wing and high post with his teammates cleared out, in a situation to create his own shot. A capable ball handler for a player his size, Thompkins likes to drive right to get to the basket, preferring to use his strength to get to the block and then using his footwork to beat his matchup to the rim, often using nifty pivot moves along the way. This an impressive move for an NCAA big man to make, let alone one who is just 19 years old.
While not showing much in the way of advanced ball handling ability, and showing average decision making and passing skills at times, Thompkins is one of the more turnover prone players in our database
something hell need to work on moving forward. While hes not a bad ball-handler by any stretch for an NCAA big man, he could clearly stand to polish up this part of his game.
Away from the rim Thompkins has made some significant strides as a shooter and is benefiting significantly from the improved shot-selection hes showing this season. After shooting 38.4% from three-point range on 3.1 attempts per-game as a freshman, Thompkins has shot an impressive 42% from three on 1.9 attempts per-game this season, ranking him amongst the most efficient shooters in our database
. With Mark Foxs system getting him the ball in the post more effectively, Thompkins still forces defenders to respect his range. He displays excellent touch on virtually every shot he takes, which has helped him improve his pull up jumper and midrange game two areas he should continue to work on but show great potential moving forward.
Thompkins is able to make a big impact on the offensive end with his well-rounded skill set, but his laid-back nature becomes apparent when watching him defend. The Georgia native does an adequate job getting a hand up on shooters, and his excellent hands help him come up with loose balls in the lane and rebound at a solid rate, but his lack of intensity makes it difficult for him to be an effective stopper. Giving up position too easily on the block, and lacking a sense of urgency and discipline when closing out shooters, Thompkins doesnt always compete on the defensive end the way that NBA decision-makers would like to see. Considering his average physical tools, the concerns about his intensity become that much more problematic when projecting his defensive presence to the next level.
With his sophomore season coming to a close, Thompkins faces a difficult decision regard his future. Mark Fox has been laying the groundwork for future recruiting classes, but there is little talent at this point headed to Athens next fall. Thompkins has boosted his play considerably, but with Georgia seemingly off of the national radar, are enough NBA people actually taking notice? A couple of teams we spoke with hadn't seen him play this season. Another question would be-- could he significantly improve his NBA resume next season if his team continues to struggle?
One NBA scout we spoke with stated, He took a big step this year, but he isn't going to get a lot of buzz. I see him in the late 1st, early 2nd round. Considering his age and talent level, Thompkins seems like a great bet for a competitor drafting for the future, but hes not guaranteed a spot in the first at this juncture. Keeping things close to the vest when asked about his future, Thompkins will have a tough call on his hands when the early entry deadline rolls around. A strong showing against Kentucky tonight and then in the SEC tournament would go a long ways in making people notice his play.