Junior college transfer anxious to help Sooners return to their winning ways.
July 15, 2010
NORMAN, Okla. -- Talk to Nick Thompson even for just a minute and it's clear he loves basketball. He reads about it, he watches it, he constantly thinks about it. Now he gets to play it at the University of Oklahoma.
A 6-9, 212-pound forward, Thompson transferred to OU following a two-year junior college stint at the College of Eastern Utah. Last year he helped his school to a third-place national finish, its best in 45 years.
Thompson, a versatile big man who says he sees the floor well and likes to take advantage of mismatches on the offensive end, lived in Oklahoma City when he was a child. In fact, the first college game he ever attended was at Lloyd Noble Center.
We sat down with Thompson this week to find out how his summer in Norman is going and to learn more details about him both on and off the court. The Q&A is below and a separate video interview is available in the player above.
Q: When did you arrive in Norman and how have you been spending your time here?
A: "I got to Norman about a month and a half ago and basically have been hanging out in the gym and going to class. I live right across from the gym, so when I'm not in class I'm usually in the gym. And if I'm not in the gym I'm at home."
Q: How would you describe your workouts?
A: "I think the workouts have been going really well. All the guys coming back and all of our transfers seem to have a sense of hunger to them and everybody wants to turn things around. From what I can see so far, I think we have a really good shot to be good next year."
Q: What do the workouts consist of?
A: "We're doing a lot of weightlifting, some boxing and some Pilates. On our own time we've been in the gym playing five-on-five, getting some shots up, stuff like that."
Q: How has the work you've been doing this summer compare to the type of work you did in junior college?
A: "We've got a lot nicer stuff here at OU. In junior college we didn't really have a weight room. We had a bench press, some treadmills and one or two squat racks. Here we have a lot more stuff I can use to help me get better."
Q: Talk about your two years at College of Eastern Utah from both a team and a personal standpoint.
A: "I think it was the best thing for me. I was real young and it kind of helped me to grow up fast. Playing for the coach I had and playing in juco, you had to be a man if you were going to last. If not, you were just going to get sent home. We had a lot of kids who were in a similar situation to me where we maybe didn't make grades (out of high school) and were on our last leg. It really gave me a chance to mature more quickly than I think I could have on my own. It made me become one of the older players on the team even though I was still kind of younger, if that makes sense. I had to step into a leadership role a lot faster than if I would have played Division I basketball (straight out of high school).
"All in all I had some of the best times of my life there. I played for a good team and we were top-25 both years. We made the national tournament for the first time in school history when I was a sophomore and we ended up third in the nation. So it was a really good experience for me. I loved it."
Q: What went into your decision to sign with Oklahoma?
A: "My dad's side of the family is from Oklahoma, so it was nice to know I had family back here. I grew up being a fan. Besides that, Coach Capel seemed real down to earth, we seemed to be on the same page about things and I just felt this was a good opportunity for me to come in and be successful right away. Having just two years left, I wanted to go to a school where my help is needed and where I can help win games."
Q: You've lived in a lot of places. Can you list them all?
A: "My father spent 27 years in the military. He was in the Air Force, and when I was born he was stationed in Rapid City, S.D. When I was about 4 months old we moved to Oklahoma City and he was at Tinker Air Force Base. When I was 6 years old we moved to Hawaii, then we went to Dover, Del., and then I spent four years in Ramstein, Germany. After that, I spent high school and my first two years of college in Utah. Now my family lives in Colorado."
Q: Was moving around so often as a child difficult? Looking back, was it beneficial in any way?
A: "I think there were a lot of good things that came from that. When I was in Germany I got to play a different style of basketball. I got to play in tournaments and go to Poland and stuff like that. So I think that helped. As far as being hard on me, I don't think it really was because I was used to it. I think it helped me in that I could make friends a little bit quicker and things like that."
Q: How would you describe your game to people who've never seen you play?
A: "I like to exploit mismatches. If I have someone small on me I can go into the post. If there's someone bigger on me I can get by them and get to the basket. Really, I like to pass the ball more than anything. I love to get assists, I can see the floor. I just like playing team basketball. If I'm the one that gets the points when we're playing team basketball, that's great. If not, I like to see my teammates score points as long as we're winning."
Q: What do you consider your biggest strength as a player?
"I think my biggest strength is my IQ. I know the game fairly well. Just being able to create mismatches with my height -- shooting the ball or posting up."
Q: In what areas do you most want to improve?
A: "I think my body needs to improve the most. I'm a little underweight, so I'd like to add a little size and gain some pounds before the season starts."
Q: What's your best basketball memory?
A: "Probably last year when we won our conference. Our school had never done it before and we won it on our home court. That was a good feeling. That's probably my best basketball memory. Hopefully I'll have a better one here."
Q: What do you remember about OU basketball when you were a child living in the state?
A: "When I lived here as a kid, my father took me to an Oklahoma game at Lloyd Noble against Nebraska when I was about four years old. I don't really remember it to be honest, but that's the first college game I ever went to. It's kind of cool that I'm back here now and this is where I'll be playing my games.
"My dad was a real big fan, so I've always followed OU basketball. I know quite a bit back to guys like Hollis Price and Kevin Bookout - that's when basketball really started becoming more important to me. Of course I followed the (Elite Eight) team two years ago as well. So I know quite a bit about OU basketball."