If you glanced at the state of Minnesota’s loaded 2018 class and thought a top player was missing this year, you weren’t losing your mind.
A former four-star forward at Armstrong, Race Thomspon would’ve been a senior in high school, but he reclassified to 2017 and graduated early to join Indiana this season.
Thompson, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound freshman, planned from the start to redshirt this year. The Hoosiers, who are hosting the Gophers on Friday at Assembly Hall, have suffered through injuries in the frontcourt this season, but Thompson and his family never considered burning his redshirt.
“It’s a little tough not being able to play,” Thompson said. “But it was a decision my family and I made, and it’s definitely going to help me out in the long run to make an impact (next year). I was planning to redshirt the whole year, no matter what.”
Thompson didn’t fully pursue reclassifying until last July. So he missed the summer workouts and practices with his team. That set him back once he arrived in Bloomington in the fall.
The son of Gophers all-time leading rusher, Darrell Thompson, was talented enough to leave high school early. But Race realized how much tougher the demands were in college for him physically and mentally.
“At first it was kind of tough, because everybody had been here all summer,” Thompson said. “I was a little behind with conditioning and things like that. But everybody was welcoming for me. That made it a lot easier for my transition. There’s a lot more maturity here in college. I had to grow up fast. When I first got here, things were moving fast and I didn’t really know the plays. I was just kind there, but things have slowed down now.”
Thompson said it hasn’t been hard for him to be away from home. First-year Hoosiers coach Archie Miller and his staff has given him a strong family environment as well.
“They expect a lot out of us, but it helps they are very supportive,” he said. “I think it’s a good place to be. There always there for you for pretty much everything. They teach you and always are helping you.”
He'll be cheering on his Indiana teammates against his home state program for the second time Friday. The Hoosiers beat Minnesota at Williams Arena on Jan. 6 with Thompson in uniform but on the bench.
A year ago, Thompson had goals of proving he was the best high school player in the 2018 class. But he’s now ahead of the state’s top seniors in a different way, guys like Tre Jones, Daniel Oturu, Gabe Kalscheur and Jarvis Omersa have to wait until this summer to go to college.
“It’s a little weird, honestly,” Thompson said about not being in high school anymore. “I see (the top seniors) on Twitter and how they’re doing. I’m real busy, so I don’t get to watch their games. I just see highlights. But it’s good to see they’re doing good.”