Exclusive Interview With Jason Thompson
Jason Thompson is in the midst of one of his most intense basketball weeks yet. After kicking off the week in Orlando, the coveted big from little known Rider University found himself at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, once again showcasing his skills for NBA personnel and local media alike. Following the grueling workout, Hoops Addict had the chance to flag down the promising senior for a chance to talk about the draft. With panels of scouts, coaches and general managers itching to break down and analyze this future NBA pick’s game, the time Jason set aside before heading to Washington (for yet another workout the next day) was greatly appreciated.
Hoops Addict: So, you have a busy week. I believe tomorrow you are in Washington. How are you preparing for grueling two hour workouts on back-to-back days?
Jason Thompson: I’m just trying to get through it. It’s real tough but when I talk to a lot of GMs and NBA guys that I’ve worked out with before, they say that’s just preparing you for the season, going from city to city. If you’re playing an 82 game schedule and then the playoffs ,the travel is not going to be easy. You’ll get into cities real late, but that’s just part of the adversity that you have to go through when you’re trying to get on the team and get a spot.
HA: You mention adversity, and I believe in late May you suffered a mild shoulder injury while playing against Sun Ming-Ming, how’s the shoulder feeling and is that affecting your workouts right now?
JT: It’s feeling good. It’s not 100% but I’m playing through it. That’s also one good thing too, playing through injuries. I know for a lot of rookies it’s tough for them once they get injured, trying to get back onto the floor, but this is just a test now for if I get hurt during the season. I’m experiencing it a little bit now, playing through it and trying not to let GMs and people think it’s affecting me while I’m playing.
HA: Is this your first workout in an NBA city?
JT: No, I went to Orlando yesterday. I worked out with them and tomorrow I’ll be in Washington.
HA: What are you enjoying the most about this process?
JT: The experience. Just working out with the guys who are in the same situation that I’m in. Me coming from a small mid-major school, you’re not playing against the best guys in the country but now I am. And not just guys from America, but international guys as well. So it’s just the experience, the travel, and just learning from the workouts that I’ve had in Chicago with Tim Grover and the other NBA guys.
HA: What has been the most challenging aspect of all of these workouts?
JT: Just getting through it. You don’t know how long the workouts are going to be. It’s not like it’s drawn up. And you have to go through their physicals. I thought you only had to do one physical and it was for all the other teams, but some teams won’t accept other teams’ paper work and stuff like that. We had our physical before anything [on Wednesday] and that was pretty long. And then we into a two and a half hour workout. It keeps you in shape for other workouts but the adversity also comes in because you have to fly on another plane and head to another city.
HA: As a freshman you were 6’8” and now your 6’11”. How has your background as a wing player helped you prepare for the NBA?
JT: It helped me a lot. I’m not the type of player that’s one dimensional. I’m not just in the post. When you think of a 6’11” guy you think of his back to the basket, but throughout my years I’ve played outside and I’ve played the wing. I’ve even brought the ball up sometimes if guys are pressing. So I’ve tried to show a little bit in each workout I do, that I have versatility, I can dribble the ball, I can step out and shoot some jumpers with confidence and just show them that I have an all-around game.
HA: Last summer you took part in LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire’s camps as well as Pete Newell’s. How did those experiences help you grow as a player?
JT: It helps because some of the guys that I’m working out with now were at those camps as well. Just having that experience makes it a little bit easier during these workouts. During those camps I worked out with some NBA trainers and I also got to play against some of the best guys in the NBA. We played some pickup and we had some guys that are preparing for the NBA Draft playing, but I took that challenge of guarding first-team NBA players. I tried to challenge myself as well as show the people that I’m not going to back down from anybody even though they are the better player. Just trying to learn from it, that everything isn’t going to be easy when you first start in the NBA. I just take one day at a time and see how it goes.
HA: Jason, thank you for your time and good luck in the draft.
JT: Thank you, I appreciate it.