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Player Spotlight

SJB’s Thompson Plays 1- 5
Jay Mumford

The upside of playing high school hoops is a given…you simply get to play the game. But the downside is more complex, especially if you have what it takes to get to the next level. Sometimes you have to play where the team needs you, and if you’re as strong as St. John The Baptist’s junior guard/forward Kamala Thompson, into the paint you go.

“When I first started working with Kamala, she had size and strength, but I had a feeling that she wasn’t going to grow anymore”, said skills trainer Jerry Powell. “I was right, she never did. I didn’t even focus on post moves, all I worked on with her was her guard skills.”

Many HS talents from both the boys and girls sides play out of position due to their size, and when they storm the next level, adjusting to their natural position can be likened to forcing a square peg into a round hole. Fortunately, Thompson’s skill sets surpass her team’s immediate need.

“Kamala handles the ball well, she has great vision, passing ability and three point range”, said SJB Head Coach Ted Oberg. “She can play the point, but she’s so strong that we play her at forward. What separates her from other players is her strength.”  Thompson’s enforcer act in the middle has awarded her 9 points and 10 boards a game and her share of double-doubles, but with D-1 recruit Alexis Smith running the point, Thompson happily embraces the paint and does whatever it takes to catapult the Lady Cougars to victory.

“Kamala and I are great together”, said Smith. “We’ve been playing together for such a long time that we know how to find each other on the court.” At 5’9, however, Thompson will likely be the one running the point wherever she lands for her collegiate stay.

“I’m really working on enhancing my passing, my shooting and my dribbling”, revealed Thompson, who has received college interest from Hartford, Dartmouth, Old Dominion and St. John’s (according to Coach Oberg). “I have height for high school, but I’ll be a guard when I play in college so I‘m preparing for that.”

Coach Oberg echoes those thoughts. “At this level she can play all five positions, but in college, she’s definitely a one or a two”, he said. “She’s pushed the ball up the floor for us this year when we’ve needed her to. She’s a very strong guard that can finish, and I’m totally comfortable moving her to the point if we have to.” Physicality aside, Thompson’s most impressive attributes would be her passing ability and stroke from long range, making her a very tough defensive assignment. Daily training with Powell, off-season AAU and a stringent daily conditioning routine are all part of Thompson’s gritty preparation campaign.

“Kamala’s game improved a lot over the summer”, Powell said. “She’s a hard worker. She could’ve been at the mall hanging out, but she came and trained every day.”


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