Trinity star from Down Under signs with Delta

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 20, 2000

Playing college basketball is a dream for many young people, although it is often a distant dream, at best. For Kris Thompson, it was a dream that was approximately 6,000 miles away.

But sometimes dreams come true. Last month, the Queensland, Australia, native and Trinity High School stand-out was offered a partial basketball scholarship from Delta State University.

&uot;Delta State has gotten themselves a gem,&uot; said Trinity basketball coach David King. &uot;He was one of the best point guards Trinity has ever had — no doubt about it.&uot;

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Delta State basketball coach Steve Reeves agreed. &uot;We liked his toughness, we liked his quick first step,&uot; he said. &uot;We like his potential in our system.&uot;

And Thompson liked what he saw at Delta.

&uot;It was my first choice out of all the schools I visited,&uot; he said. &uot;I went to the campus seven or eight times on tours and try outs, and Delta — the campus, players, the coaches — it just made the best impression by far.&uot;

Other area schools — including Belhaven, Millsaps and Copiah-Lincoln Community College — expressed interest in Thompson, he said, but he’s happy with the offer made by the Cleveland, school.

&uot;I’ll get 30 percent of the in-state tuition paid, and the out-of-state fee is waivered,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s out-of-state because I’m a foriegner.&uot;

Thompson couldn’t get much more foriegn, geographically speaking. Although two years in Natchez have added a curious twang to his Austrailian accent, it is obvious to most people that he’s not from around here.

&uot;We have an exchange student program at Trinity,&uot; King said. &uot;We knew he wanted to play basketball, but we didn’t anything about his ability.&uot;

King now knows a great deal about Thompson’s ability, but not nearly as much as Trinity’s opponents last year.

Thompson averaged 21 points, 9 assissts, 6 rebounds and 4 steals a game his senior year, leading the Saints to a 27-7 record, a district title and a trip to the state tournament.

&uot;He’s not selfish,&uot; King said. &uot;He makes the pass when it’s there. There’s no telling how many points he could have scored.&uot;

Thompson’s assists averaged in double digits his first year with Saints, King said, &uot;but last year I needed him to score more, and he did.&uot;

Thompson hopes he’ll get the chance to pass and score at Delta, too, he said. His goal is to be a contributing starter in two years, he said.

&uot;That will be up to Kris,&uot; Reeves said. &uot;We had a great recruiting year and there’s good competition at every position. But he has a shot at earning the point position.&uot;

Kris would like to continue his basketball career after college, prehaps playing in Europe or Australia, he said, but that will depend on how he does at Delta.

He will study management in college, he said, just in case.

King hopes Thompson will continue his basketball career as a coach.

&uot;I hope he’ll come back here and help me,&uot; King said. &uot;He was my assistant coach on the court.&uot;

Thompson also wants to return to Australia some day, but he doesn’t know when that will be possible.

&uot;It will probably be when I get out of school,&uot; he said. &uot;But I’ll probably be too tied up here. It’ll be too easy to stay.&uot;

Not that Thompson particularly minds staying here.

&uot;Trinity was a godsend,&uot; he said. &uot;People always ask me why I came to Natchez. I think it was God leading me to the right place.&uot;

Thompson also credits his host family, Bill and Melanie Darsey, and King for making Natchez his home away from home.

&uot;They helped me phenominally,&uot; he said. &uot;Coach must have made 300 phone calls to Delta this summer. He’s been like family.

&uot;I don’t think it could have been any better anywhere else,&uot; he said. &uot;No better at all.&uot;