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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 4

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Page 18 of 88

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 4 19 undersell somebody's physical or men- tal attributes and get away from the fundamental premise of, 'Do they care about winning and do they care about doing whatever it takes to help their team? Is that their No. 1 priority?'" Purdue again had finished in last place. Painter and his staff had of- fered Thompson in the spring of his senior season just as two-year start- ing point guard Ronnie Johnson was about to transfer. As Purdue looks back on it now, it sounds like it would have taken Thompson with or with- out Johnson. Thompson represented for Pur- due what it didn't otherwise have at point guard. Johnson and Bryson Scott were probably two of the more talented guards Painter's had at Pur- due. But they struggled in structure, struggled to play team basketball and at times resisted coaching. Thompson: "I probably wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Ronnie and Bryson and those are my guys. I'm friends with both those guys. … But I wouldn't be here if what I bring to the basketball floor wasn't something they didn't have here before. It was Coach Painter. He had confidence in me, he believed in me. He took a chance on me and I took a chance on him and it worked out. I really appreciate the opportunity he gave me, and I think I've taken ad- vantage of it. I knew in my mind I could play at the highest level, whether it was Purdue or someplace else, and I think I've proven it, but I appreciate him giving me the opportu- nity." That said, Purdue knew exactly what it was getting in Thompson, so maybe it didn't take all that much of a chance. It's not often in recruiting that a program can literally recruit a player for his entire high school career before making a decision on an offer. That was the case with Thompson, who former assis- tant coach Jack Owens has known since he was a child. Owens and Painter recruited Thompson his whole career at Brebeuf Jesuit in Indy even though for much of that time they had no intention of tak- ing a point guard in its 2014 class, with Johnson and Scott having come in in 2012 and 2013, respec- tively. Thompson: "They never knew if they were going to take a point guard in my class and they were always honest about that, but we kept the relationship. I got later into my senior year and they started recruiting me hard- er, because they knew what the guard situation was here. They knew they were going to offer me and I committed when Ronnie was still here, but a couple days later he (transferred). I didn't really care (he was already here)." j Paul Sadler / Purdue Athletics P.J. Thompson's stability at the point guard position was just what Painter was looking for when the signed the India- napolis native late in the recruiting process. It couldn't have worked out better for both parties. Photo Courtesy of Brebeuf

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