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Scholar athlete: Thompson serious about grades, basketball

Vidalia High School’s Isiah Thompson passes the ball during Tuesday night’s game against Marksville. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)
Vidalia High School’s Isiah Thompson passes the ball during Tuesday night’s game against Marksville. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)

VIDALIA — Isiah Thompson can be playful with his friends and teammates at Vidalia High School, but when it’s game time, he’s all business.

Senior guard Thompson is the Vidalia Vikings leading scorer night in and night out, and while he continues to scorch the nets, he also manages to maintain a 3.1 GPA, while working part-time at Sonic Drive-In.

Juggling sports, school and work can be time consuming, but Thompson said it’s all about prioritizing.

“School comes first, then basketball and then work,” Thompson said. “We have study hall that gives me time to study and do homework before practice.”

Thompson said it took some time to get accustomed to his hectic schedule. When he first came to Vidalia High School, he had to warm up to a totally different team.

“As a freshman, I was a little nervous about playing with a new team and new coaches,” he said. “But we kept playing together and I felt as if they all accepted me like family and now I can play my style of play and do what I can to secure the win.”

Vidalia head coach Robert Sanders said he likes the improvement that Thompson has made over the course of his high school career.

“He’s always been a model and a good student,” Sanders said. “He’s been on varsity for three years now, and he has progressively gotten better every year.”

In his senior year, the Vikings are now 13-8 overall and 2-0 in district compared to last ear’s 9-17 record, and Thompson said it is because of the hard work they have put in and the extra work he does on his own.

“We work really hard a practice,” Thompson said. “Running as much as we do allowed me to be on the court as much as I do. I spend most Saturday and Sunday mornings in a gym, too.”

Thompson takes that mindset to the classroom as well, as an honor roll student with a 20 on his ACT.

Sanders said Thompson’s grades come from his family’s values and goals.

“His family instills in him that he needs to have good grades first in order to play,” he said.

Thompson said he wants to attend college next year on a basketball scholarship, but he’s not sure where we will be yet. But he is sure that he wants to become a basketball coach and instill his love and passion for the game in the lives of children.

Thompson and the Vikings will take to the road for their next game, a 7:30 p.m. Friday matchup at Jena High School.