Thompson finds spark at ASU after year away

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 31, 2005

LORMAN &045; Delvin Thompson found himself nearly 2,000 miles away from the only place he ever called home, so he did what anyone else in his position would do.

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The soft-spoken, easygoing sharp-shooter from Fayette had to adjust quickly to his first new digs right out of high school &045; a spot on the team at Utah Valley State College. Thompson was looking for a junior college to latch on to get an education and play basketball and found a spot at a place far, far away.

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For one season he did it, and he used the entire experience to improve his game with the hopes of landing with a four-year program after his two years were up.

&uot;You’ve got to take care of yourself,&uot; Thompson said. &uot;It was 28 hours away, and I didn’t know anybody. I made friends out there, but it was different &045; real different. But they take care of you, and the people are nice. It was all right.&uot;

His stay in Orem, Utah, turned out to be short. The school of well over 20,000 students announced its intentions of becoming a four-year institution and elevating its athletic department to the Division I level, and Thompson still had a year left before becoming eligible to play at the D-I level.

Thompson had offers to go a handful of schools out west, including Weber State, but opted to make the trek back home and play for Alcorn. After sitting out the 2003-04 season, he’s returned to action with the Braves as a polished player who is making a significant impact in his first season as the team’s leading scorer.

&uot;Delvin is a great young man and a terrific athlete who had a lot of adjusting to do,&uot; said UVSC head coach Dick Hunsaker, who got connected with Thompson through a former player and Fayette native Charles Carradine. &uot;He improved immensely. It was all over a season. It took time to adjust skills and his talent level to the cerebral side of the game. I thought he really progressed.&uot;

Thompson’s decision to come back home was a simple one, particularly since Alcorn head coach Samuel West recruited him out of high school. He earned a letter his first year at Utah Valley and earned the team’s Special Effort and Contribution Award, but the call to come back home and play at Alcorn was something he wanted to do.

The Braves had just finished up their final season under longtime head coach Davey Whitney and were coming off an appearance in the SWAC tournament championship when he decided to come back.

&uot;The reason I went out there was I wanted to go to a junior college,&uot; Thompson said. &uot;I wanted to come back home. I could have went to a lot of different colleges, but I wanted to come back home. It’s closer to home (here), and I knew (West) from high school.&uot;

Thompson has taken the Utah experience and applied it to his role with the Braves. He spent his time at point guard, shooting guard and small forward at Utah Valley, but he’s been strictly a shooting guard this season with the Braves.

And with an average of just under 15 points a game, he’s likely found a home &045; even while playing with a bruised sternum.

&uot;Quick, fast and athletic,&uot; West said. &uot;And stubborn, but I love him to death. We all do &045; staff and players. He’s playing on his own with a bruised sternum. He said, ‘Coach, I’m fine.’ He’s really found his role. His work ethic is one of the best on the team day-in and day-out.&uot;

Thompson has been the brightest spot on an Alcorn team that’s had its share of dark moments this season. The Braves sit at 3-5 in SWAC play with an overall mark of 4-15, but Thompson’s contributions have been significant in just about every conference game so far.

Thompson had 20 points in the win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff and had 22 in the 69-58 loss at Alabama State Monday.

&uot;He’s really worked hard on fitting in,&uot; West said. &uot;The generation of student-athletes today is so much different than from days past. You really have to work on fitting in, which he’s done. He has a strong Christian background, and that has made the difference.

&uot;We recruited him out of high school, but he didn’t want to sit out. We talked a lot when he was at that junior college. His father and mother were very instrumental in getting him back, and also his brother.&uot;

Fitting into the team took some time, although Thompson started in the exhibition opener against VASDA and scored 15 points. He also started the first two games of the season but connected on just five of 20 shots from the field, and he came off the bench in the 77-63 loss at Wyoming and scored 12 points.

Thompson started the next game against Air Force and scored 11 points in the 67-41 loss. He put up a season-high 26 in the overtime loss to Mississippi Valley State two weeks ago.

Thompson’s 34 3-pointers made and 93 attempted both lead the conference.

&uot;I had to buy into the system, and I had to listen to the coaches,&uot; Thompson said. &uot;You have to buy into the system. The challenge was to learn the offense and get it done. One mistake on the floor can mess the whole offense up. That’s the hardest part &045; the decision-making process. &uot;

Thompson has made the right decisions so far, and teams in the SWAC are starting to catch on. He can be even more effective once the Braves get their inside game well-established, but that’s going to come with time.

In the meantime, Thompson will keep at it and continue to get better in his new home.

&uot;He had some family issues at home, and it was a long way from Mississippi,&uot; Hunsaker said. &uot;Delvin was extremely well-received. He’s a people person, and he got along great here. I certainly miss him. I wish I had him.&uot;