So, perhaps it's not just a very vocal minority espousing the virtues of former Virginia Tech big man Trevor Thompson. It appears that I may have spoken hastily when I voiced the opinion that he'd be hard-pressed to get the opportunity to hone his craft in a league as highly-regarded as the ACC.
Thompson has been released from his letter-of-intent in Blacksburg and will have to sit out next season wherever he goes (though he will be allowed to practice). I have not seen it specified as to whether there is non-compete language in his release, prohibiting him from joining another ACC program, though such a clause would be viewed as standard; similarly to how incoming football QB Michael Brewer was dealt with in his release from Texas Tech.
Earlier this week, on Purdue's SBN site Hammer and Rails, there was a lot of discussion surrounding Trevor Thompson and WVU's recent defector Eron Harris. But it now appears that Thompson's options have grown exponentially in scope and prestige.
Per the Indianapolis Star, the following schools are now interested in Thompson:
Thompson has heard from Arizona, Auburn, Florida, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue, Tennessee and Xavier since getting his release.
In case you're keeping track: That's 8 NCAA tournament teams (three in the Elite Eight!), and one bubble team in Georgetown. And a 2-16 ACC cellar-dweller couldn't find a way to keep him? I'm sorry but as "decorated" as Coach Williams is, I might defer to the likes of Billy Donovan and Billy Self and Thad Matta first on talent-evaluation.
Let's examine Thompson's options, keeping in mind he chose VT over Tennessee, Xavier, and Purdue out of high school:
Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky: He might never see the floor. They recruit too well. He would have to earn every minute. The interest is probably a nice boost to his ego though. "Look at who wants me, Buzz!"
Check this out from Kansas: http://www2.kusports.com/news/2014/mar/29/virginia-tech-big-man-eyeing-kansas/
Georgetown: If distance from home was already a concern, this will not do much to alleviate that. But in a lesser Big East, he might succeed.
Big 10s 2nd tier (Nebraska, Purdue): Both would find a home for him quickly, and he might be apt to jump right into the fray with confidence.
Ohio State/Xavier: Very intriguing, he would be a defensive presence immediately and have the opportunity to work under either of two excellent coaches.
Northwestern: I am not sure what type of student Thompson is, but the admissions at NW are prohibitive for many. Also, Northwestern basketball has never made an NCAA tournament. So....yeah, Northwestern.
SEC schools (Florida, Auburn, Tennessee):
Florida took the 2013-2014 SEC 6th man of the Year from us in Dorian Finney-Smith and may very well win a national title featuring his talents. So he needs to say very little to the Thompson camp about what he can do for young Trevor. The question is whether or not he can manage to earn rotation minutes. Above all, Thompson's father Ryan, grew accustomed to winning as a member of the Evil Empire Steinbrenner Yankees in the 1990s. So in terms of winning influencing this decision, I should think Florida would be in the catbird seat.
Tennessee stock is very high nationally right now, after recently having been deemed very low. They have a group of schizophrenic boosters which have been well-documented as they've struggled to replace football coach Phil Fulmer. So, if I'm Thompson and I'm basing my decision on Cuonzo Martin being there, he might want to weigh that carefully. Despite multiple losses to top ranked Florida and highly-regarded Kentucky, his detractors were killing him as the tournament started. Will a couple wins this March keep the wolves at bay?
The option that intrigues me most we save for last: Auburn. With new coach Bruce Pearl acting like his usual bull in a china shop self, and being mentioned in virtually every big transfer and unsigned recruits list of choices, he might have a spot right now for Thompson. And with room to grow that program, he might actually take Buzz's "waste" while at the same time have his hat in the ring for former Marquette verbal commit Malek Harris, who I covered at length here.
Wouldn't that be interesting? Buzz sniffs around after the Auburn job, takes the VT job instead at a substantial salary increase to what Pearl got at Auburn, but loses out on two key rotation players that help Auburn improve? Who has come out ahead in that scenario? Tangled webs are being woven.
It is no secret that I valued Thompson highly, and if I had my choice of one of the three key freshmen to lose to transfer, he would have been the one I protected in a fantasy draft. With what Montrezl Harrell and Dorian Finney-Smith have shown us this post-season, I am going to be sad in two years when Thompson is contributing heavily to someone's Tournament run. Of course, there is a flip side to that coin: Maybe Buzz has us in a bracket of our own by then.
Finally, I have not received any kind of news on who we might be bringing in to replace Thompson and Rankin scholarship-wise. As soon as we know, we'll pass it on.
Mi Cassell es su Cassell.
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