After three months, Alex Thompson finally put his “stamp” on a future college basketball career Friday.
A summer transfer to Houston Academy from Jensen Beach, Fla., Thompson committed in August to play at Stetson University, a Division-I program in DeLand, Fla., located between Orlando and Daytona Beach.
On Friday, the 6-foot-8, 210-pound forward made it official, signing with the Hatters during a ceremony at Houston Academy.
“I am happy to finally get it done,” Thompson said. “I have been waiting on this for awhile. It has always been my goal to play Division-I college basketball. I have worked hard the past four years to get there and I am happy to finally put a stamp on it today.”
Thompson was a third-team Class 5A all-state selection last year in the state of Florida after averaging 24.0 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks a game for Jensen Beach High School. He averaged 20.6 points and 9.3 rebounds as a sophomore with the Falcons.
His family moved to Dothan early this summer after his dad, Paul, became pastor of Calvary Baptist Church.
Playing the small forward position, Thompson made his debut for Ron Watson’s Raiders Thursday, scoring 27 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, including eight on offense, in a 72-70 win over Ariton. He also had three assists, two blocked shots and a steal. He made 12-of-25 shots overall and was 0-of-3 on 3-point attempts.
“I felt pretty comfortable,” Thompson said of his first game. “In this offense, he put me in spots where I feel very comfortable, like bringing the ball up. I shot 12-for-25, so he has me shooting a lot. That is what he wants.
“I was mostly driving to the basket or setting up in the post. I only attempted 3 threes.”
With his size and abilities outside and inside, plus off the dribble, Watson said Thompson will give opposing teams headaches.
“Alex is a match-up problem for a lot of people because of his size and ability to shot from the outside,” Watson said. “He has also long strides, so he gets to the hole in a hurry and he is good around the hole.
“I can see by the time he is a junior (in college), he should weigh another 30-40 pounds more and as athletic as he is, Stetson probably got a good steal.”
Pat Kelly, Thompson’s coach at Jensen Beach, said the Stetson signee brings a lot to the table.
“The versatility, stepping out on perimeter and being able to put the ball on the floor, he caught the ball on wing or up top, at the post with circle cuts, and it all came with a fluid ability,” Kelly said in an August article on the Palm Beach Post website. “He was able to play in the open court and was very graceful, if you will, and he was a pretty good stopper as a big man for us. He was a tremendous contribution to our program.”
At Houston Academy, Thompson is expected to help the Raiders both outside and inside, but most likely more on the perimeter.
“For this system here, I will probably be playing the three, the small forward position, which is where I will be playing in college too,” Thompson said of his role at HA. “I like to play more on the perimeter more so than in the paint. I like to shoot the ball from 3-point range and bring up the ball whenever he needs me to. I can play any position he needs me to, 1-5.”
Thompson was being heavily recruited by a lot of schools and said Stetson, Princeton, Gardner-Webb University and Boston University were the top four schools in pursuit. He chose Stetson because of familiarity and location.
“The No. 1 reason is I got to know the coaches well since they have been recruited me since my sophomore year and I saw the program is going in the right direction,” Thompson said. “Wins wise they have been increasing every year. The location is right in the middle between here and my home in Jensen Beach, Fla., so location played a big role in it.”
Thompson said he has grandparents still in Jensen Beach and many of his friends are also there.
The Hatters, according to Thompson, liked his versatility.
“They recruited me for my 3-point shooting ability and being able to mix it up in the post as well as play outside,” Thompson said. “They are looking for a versatile small forward.”
Like with any new player that transfers in, Watson said he had initial worries about any “selfishness” and if he would fit in chemistry wise with the other players. The Raider coach quickly found out that he didn’t have to worry at all.
“He is a really team player,” Watson said. “He is not worried about scoring or he is not worried about his rebounds. He just wants to win.”