Averaging a double-double his senior year at Torrance High School in Torrance, California—while leading his team to the California Division II-A finals—Deon Thompson was heavily recruited by all of the big name schools, including North Carolina, Connecticut, Gonzaga, and Kentucky.
With the college basketball world at his fingertips, the decision certainly wasn’t easy. That is until UNC Head Coach Roy Williams came into Deon’s house to meet with Deon and his family.
“When he first sat down at home meetings it was just the feeling that I got from him, it was the best feeling that I got from anybody,” said Thompson in a recent telephone interview with TheRookieWall.com.
After settling in at Chapel Hill, Thompson quickly began to work on his conditioning and diet to be able to better compete on such a high level at a power conference school.
“When I first got to Carolina I was pretty overweight, a bigger guy, and [Jonas Sahratian, the strength and conditioning coach] really got to me early and just changed my diet and changed the way I took care of my body,” he said.
With a new physique, Thompson was now ready to bang with the big boys in the ACC. Although his North Carolina team was stacked with talent (seven McDonald’s All-American players), Thompson managed to get playing time and contribute his freshman season, averaging 12 minutes and five points a night.
With a year under his belt, Thompson was able to get more minutes his sophomore season, and ended up leading the Tar Heels in blocked shots with 51. Getting time and contributing was difficult given that he was playing behind future lottery pick, and ACC great, Tyler Hansbrough.
The 2008-09 season was a memorable one for Thompson and the Tar Heels, as they managed to win the National Championship. Four players from that team went on to be drafted that year: Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, and Danny Green.
After losing the floor general (Lawson), three-point specialist (Ellington), and UNC’s all-time leading scorer (Psycho-T), things didn’t come as easy for Carolina in Thompson’s final year with the team.
The Tar Heels finished with 17 losses this year, and being a senior, Thompson was faced with the task of helping the younger players cope with the highs and lows of the season.
Following the 2009-10 season, Thompson took part in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. Although not realizing his goal of being invited to the NBA combine in Chicago, Thompson hasn’t let that stop him. He continues to work hard with the Carolina coaching staff twice a day in Chapel Hill in hopes of achieving his ultimate goal of playing in the NBA.
To View The Entire Transcript Of The Interview The Rookie Wall Had With Deon Thompson visit TheRookieWall.com