The weather calls for a high of 69 degrees on Dec. 5 – in Paramount, Calif, where Keith Thompson was born. In Utah, 36 degrees. Although the weather may be cold in this state, Thompson is just heating up as the season rolls on, and it might have something to do with his role this season as Utah Valley University’s new starting forward.
“Last year, I was playing a role on the team,” Thompson states during a postgame interview. “This year, I’m taking the leadership role. I believe I’m a key to this team.” A key might be an understatement as he ranks in the top three on his team for rebounds (13), steals (5), and points (41) this season.
Thompson is currently in his final year at UVU. This year, however, is the year that he’s an everyday starter. Last year as a junior he averaged 2.6 points a game but has already surmounted that average this season, with 10.3 points a game. “I just want to come out with energy,” Thompson said. “Do anything to get my team going.”
Before Utah Valley, he was down in Citrus College as an everyday starter as well. He played very well, averaging a team-high 11.7 points a game in the 2009 – 2010 season. He also led the team in blocks (56) and steals (43) in the same season. He even took them to the Western States Conference Championship game and won it.
Head coach Dick Hunsaker has been impressed by his 6’6” starting forward from Paramount. “When energized, he can do a lot on the court for this team,” Hunsaker said. “He’s progressing.”
During Homecoming week and on national television, Thompson showed his energy and progression when he scored a career-high 16 points in a Wolverine victory over the Kangaroos of Missouri-Kansas City. He also sealed the win with a block from the 3-point line with six seconds remaining in the game.
In last Monday’s 58-47 win over Northern Illinois, Thompson impressed Hunsaker in a completely different way. Despite finishing with no points and four rebounds, Hunsaker lauded Thompson for having his best game of the year – because of his defense.
Whether it is his offense or defense, Thompson is proving to be a great leader for this team. He continues to play good hustle ball and is not afraid to share the ball with others. Despite Thompson’s confidence and hustle on the court, as well as the numbers he puts up on the stat sheets, he always remembers to credit his team’s success as the most important factor.
“The key to this team is success,” Thompson said.
By ALEX RIVERA