Jason Thompson left behind perhaps the biggest shoes to ever be filled in the MAAC, and his younger brother is wearing them well. “In the beginning it was hard. We would just post him up and give him the ball and have him go score. This past year I had to be more aggressive and lead.” Quoted is Ryan Thompson, a senior to with the Rider Broncs, who has enjoyed a fine career and will look to cap it off with an NCAA tournament appearance and perhaps an NBA career past that.
As for what Ryan is up to this summer, “I was on campus for the first summer session and I went to the Paul Pierce Skills academy. I’m also going to the LeBron James Academy on the 24th (July).” Ryan has had the opportunity to compete against his top peers around the country this summer, and it is helping his confidence grow daily, “From a confidence standpoint it helps. If I can go against the top guys in the country and do well, it should makes things easier in the MAAC.”
The MAAC league should be in for another strong year with Thompson leading Rider, Siena being a force and Niagara returning a lot of talent. “You always have to compete with those two, but we feel we’re bringing a lot of talent this year, too.” On the topic of the NCAA tournaments. “It should be deserving of more than one bid. Anyone can win on a given night.” A topic of conversation among MAAC programs and respective fans is the location of the MAAC tournament, recently in Albany, NY. On Siena’s home floor. “I don’t like it much. It kinda gives them an advantage and it’d be nice to be closer to home to have that fan support. But it really doesn’t matter, once the ball is up, you just gota play.” Thompson and Siena’s Edwin Ubiles have received recognition this offseason, Ubiles previously having competed in a LeBron James Skills camp. The two arrived in the MAAC the same year as well and share similar roles on the floor. “Yeah people always talk about us matching up. It’s been like that since we came in. It’s something I always look forward to.”
Thompson posted 18 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists last season, great numbers but is looking forward to more team success this season. The Broncs won 19 games, but he feels they can accomplish much more. “The goal is the MAAC title and make the tournament. And we have some big games this year, Kentucky, Virginia so we want to be competitive, if not win.” Rider faired well offensively last season but found trouble on the other end of the floor. “Coach is already stressing it now. He tells us we have guys who can score the ball now but the problem is stopping people.”
Ryan will also find himself playing more point guard this season, something he experienced last season. “I can start getting teammates open a little bit this year. Playing point guard is something coach has talked to me about. I only have had one season of it so far so it’s something I’m still getting used to.” Ryan pointed out he needs to improve his ball handling and running a team overall.
Following his older brother to the NBA is becoming a realistic possibility for Thompson and remains his ultimate goal. “He’s in Sac a lot and now in Vegas for summer league, but when he’s home we work out. Just tells me keep working hard and taking nothing for granted.” Ryan feels his strengths right now are his size, and versatility. With the ability to post smaller defenders and lure slow footed big man out on the perimeter. Those abilities are sure to intrigue NBA scouts. “They’ve been around some practices. Being a point guard with my size is something they’ve told coach they like.”
With the recognition Jason and Ryan are giving the Rider basketball program, what is the future? “It’s definitely going in a positive direction. We’re starting to get better games. Playing in the Old Spice before and now the Cancun tournament. Things are definitely looking up.”