An­other Ja bas­ket­baller close to hit­ting the big times in the US

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS - Liv­ingston Scott Gleaner Writer

AN­OTHER JA­MAICAN bas­ket­baller has moved closer to be­com­ing an NBA player af­ter for­mer Vere Tech­ni­cal High stu­dent and NCAA re­bound­ing phe­nom Shevon Thomp­son was drafted by the Or­lando Magic af­fil­i­ate team Erie BayHawks as their sec­ond round 11th pick.

Thomp­son’s draft fol­lows on the heels of for­mer Cal­abar High stand­out Vashil Her­nan­dez, who was signed by the Mi­ami Heat. Even though he was not se­lected in the draft, Thomp­son, for­mer Ge­orge Ma­son Univer­sity stand­out, be­lieves he can make a big im­pres­sion in the NBA De­vel­op­ment League and take his game all the way to the NBA. “For sure, ev­ery­thing is about your work ethic, so I will be giv­ing the ex­tra and I will be work­ing hard. I will fo­cus on my re­bound­ing. That is what I will con­tinue to work on. That and things like track­ing and catch­ing the ball. I also want to make my of­fence bet­ter, but it’s go­ing to be tough,” he told The Sun­day Gleaner on Fri­day. For­mer Ja­maica Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Ajani Wil­liams, who has guided the player’s ca­reer and men­tored him at the Ja­maica Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion Elite Academy, also be­lieves the sky’s the limit for the tal­ented player. “He’s a re­bound­ing phe­nom. No­body can stand

in the way of Shevon and the NBA but him­self. The sky’s the limit for him, if he in­creases his knowl­edge of the game,” said Wil­liams.

Thomp­son was, un­for­tu­nately, di­ag­nosed with acute my­ocardi­tis (an in­flam­ma­tory dis­ease of the heart mus­cle) and has been ruled out for six weeks. How­ever, the ill­ness is treat­able, and the NBA prospect is ex­pected to re­turn to train­ing in a few weeks.

“It (ill­ness) didn’t af­fect me much, but I wasn’t happy be­cause it set me back, but ev­ery­thing is for a rea­son. It gave me more time to learn the game and get my body right. So when I re­turn, I can go into full at­tack mode. I am con­fi­dent I will over­come this and move on,” he said.

Thomp­son, who is a sev­en­footer, turned heads while at­tend­ing Ge­orge Ma­son. He was a top-five re­bounder in his first two sea­sons in the NCAA Di­vi­sion One and led in scor­ing one sea­son. He also had the hon­our of be­ing named to the At­lantic 10 All-Third team. How­ever, his play­ing time in his se­nior year de­creased un­der a new coach and a new sys­tem.

But though he had draft work­outs with Or­lando Magic, the Hous­ton Rock­ets, the Chicago Bulls, and the Washington Wizards and had sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­est from the Detroit Pistons and the Rock­ets, it was Or­lando who qui­etly and sur­pris­ingly took the chance with the big Ja­maican.

Thomp­son noted that the DLeague has im­prove dras­ti­cally over the last few years, and al­though he ex­pects it to be tough, he’s aiming to make a big im­pres­sion.

“It’s a great feel­ing be­ing drafted by one of the teams in the high­est bas­ket­ball league in the world.. The D-League is get­ting bet­ter. It’s a lot more dif­fi­cult as there are a lot of guys from top leagues, but it de­vel­ops you even bet­ter,” he said

He added: “I want to im­prove my knowl­edge of the sport so I can make my game more fluid and think less dur­ing games.”

Mean­while, one scout who was present at one of the player’s re­cent NBA work­outs told Bas­ket­ball In­sider.com: “There is no doubt he has the size of an NBA player but what makes him spe­cial is his re­bound­ing in­stincts and his knack for track­ing the ball. He’s a phe­none­nal re­bounder. Con­sid­er­ing he’s only been play­ing for a few years, he’s im­pres­sive,” the scout was quoted say­ing.

Shevon Thomp­son BIG IM­PRES­SION

Ajani Wil­liams

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