One of the most heralded recruits of the 2010 college basketball recruiting class, Texas Longhorns forward Tristan Thompson, is showing a skill set and physical ability in early games that place him in the conversation for National Freshman of the Year in college basketball.
As a high schooler, Thompson was known for his poise, athleticism, and ability to run the court as well as any big man in the country.
Through the first three games of the 2010 Longhorn season against Navy, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, and Illinois, he has shown this same poise and composure playing against veteran big men, and last evening, against forwards and centers with greater size and strength.
When catching the ball in the post, young big men will often rush an ill-advised shot, make a quick pass to alleviate pressure which leads to a turnover, or make a frantic move into traffic and lose control.
Thompson has shown poise beyond his years, and in almost every situation has made the proper decision, featuring a smooth turnaround jumper as well as an explosive first-step to the basket off the dribble.
On the defensive end, Thompson has been equally dominant. His length and explosive jump have helped him to block several shots from the weak side and grab rebounds over larger players.
At this point in his career, there will be nightly challenges against bigger and stronger players, but very few will be able to match his skills in terms of basketball IQ and poise.
Other regional big guys, including Baylor's Perry Jones, have the upper-body strength and power that may give Thompson issues as the intensity of play increases with the Big 12 conference season. His performance in these conference games will be an essential factor for the Longhorns to make their way into the post-season for another run at a National Championship.
Early returns suggest that Tristan Thompson is as good as any freshman in the country, living up to the hype that proceeded him. If this level of play continues, the National Freshman of the Year award could be his come March 2011.