The next Minnesota basketball standout with plans to stay home and play for the Gophers spent this high school season hundreds of miles away attending prep school in Indiana.
So, Gophers fans might have to be reintroduced to Treyton Thompson.
Playing at La Lumiere School, about 20 minutes from South Bend, Ind., the 6-11 Alexandria native went from dominating small-class competition in rural Minnesota to traveling the country through a grinding schedule.
It was a major adjustment mentally, and especially physically for a lanky 16-year-old who weighed only 180 pounds a year ago. He had to get much bigger, stronger and tougher.
“I feel like this is probably the biggest jump that I’ve had,” said Thompson, who added 20 pounds. “I wanted to come into this [AAU] season to prove to everybody why I went to La Lumiere. Just show how much better I got.”
Gophers faithful will have to wait to get a glimpse of their future big man since the AAU season has been put on hold with the cancellation of sports during the global pandemic.
Landing Thompson last November, though, was a must for Richard Pitino. The coach’s struggles to land Minnesota recruits continued when Hopkins senior Kerwin Walton signed with North Carolina last week. Three of the past four Gophers classes have been absent of in-state players. But Thompson, the 87th-ranked player in the Class of 2021 by 247Sports.com, will end that drought this fall.
He became the first Minnesotan to commit to the Gophers as a high school junior since Cretin-Derham Hall standout Daniel Oturu three years ago. Oturu’s class in 2018 was the Gophers’ last with local recruits.
“They didn’t have a really good reputation of getting Minnesota kids,” Thompson said. “I kind of wanted to change that, change the culture of it and help the Gophers and myself. Kind of leading a path for future people to stay home.”
The Gophers were a disappointing 15-16 when the 2019-20 season was called off, but that didn’t change Thompson’s mind. He picked the Gophers after being offered scholarships by Iowa, Texas Tech and Oklahoma.
One major factor was proximity, especially since his family has to make a 10-hour trek to see him play for La Lumiere and can’t watch every game. He plans to return there for his senior season.
“There was no reason I needed to go away for college,” Thompson said. “Minnesota had everything I wanted.”
Minnehaha Academy big man Chet Holmgren and Sunrise Christian Academy (Kan.) wing Kendall Brown are the top Minnesotans in the 2021 class, ranked No. 2 and No. 16 in the country. The Gophers are still recruiting Holmgren and Brown. But adding a player with Thompson’s upside early was significant because he could have seen his stock skyrocket this spring and summer.
Thompson’s frame is starting to catch up to the skills that make him a consensus top-100 player. He not only protects the rim, but he also shoots from deep, handles the ball and moves well for a player his size.
“A big thing for him was he’s shown a lot of improvement in the weight room, getting stronger, getting bigger and filling out,” La Lumiere coach Pat Holmes said. “He’ll have to do that to be able to be successful in the Big Ten. The thing we really love about Treyton is he’s going to work hard and do whatever he has to do to get better.”
Thompson joined the D1 Minnesota AAU team, but will have to wait to show Gophers fans how far his game has come.
“I’m just working out by myself to get my weight up,” he said. “That’s one of the positives. I really want to play basketball right now, but just getting bigger for next season is good, too.”