Every day after practice, Shevon Thompson goes to a side hoop, throws a weighted ball off the backboard and jumps, corrals it and repeats.“After practice, it’s the weirdest thing to see,” George Mason head coach Paul Hewitt said. “Usually after practice you just see a kid go grab a ball, work on free throws, work on 3-point shooting, work on ball-handling.“Very rarely do you see a kid go get a ball and go off to the side basket and work on rebounding.”It’s helped Thompson pull down 11.5 boards per game, good for fourth best in the country. The junior center possesses a tenacity and technique that has brought him a far way from the tar courts and a technical high school in Hayes, Jamaica, and one that allows him to continue to evolve from the raw teenager he once was.After attending two different junior colleges — Midland (Texas) and Harcum (Pennsylvania) — in his first two years since coming to the United States, Thompson has found a niche, both with a school and a skill, at George Mason.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Rebounding’s all about desire,” Hewitt said. “It’s whether you want to get the ball or not. In the case of Shevon, not only does he want to do it, but he also wants to improve at it.”Thompson started playing basketball at Vere Technical High School in Hayes, Jamaica when he was 17. He said he did it to try something new and see what basketball was all about.Not only were the facilities incomparable to what he plays on now, but the recruiters were few and far between.“All my games were played outside on a rough court, on tar and stuff like that,” Thompson said. “I didn’t get that much exposure to basketball.”Luckily for Thompson, the country’s rules allowed him to play one more year of high school basketball even after graduating, since he was still younger than 19 years old. It was then that he started drawing attention, as he said to himself, “OK, I think I got something going here.”Thompson put up astronomical numbers, he said, and the local media started flocking to him for interviews.“I’ll just keep going, keep going,” he told himself. “Keep playing, keep playing, keep playing.”In September of 2013, Hewitt was eyeing another Harcum player when Thompson caught his attention. When Hewitt, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, heard of Thompson’s origin, his interest was peaked even further.“His numbers weren’t eye-popping, but just watching him you knew he was going to improve,” Hewitt said. “Low maintenance, hard-worker, it was an easy one, very, very easy one.“If people knew who he was and what he was all about, he would’ve had 50-60 Division I offers.”There was no question in Hewitt’s mind that Thompson wasn’t polished.He had the potential, but the head coach had his reservations about the first-ever junior college prospect Hewitt signed in his 19 years as a head coach.“When we signed him, the idea was possibly to redshirt him because we just thought he was going to be so raw,” Hewitt said. “We made the decision to play him and we haven’t looked back.”Now, Thompson’s main focus is to strengthen his legs since opponents are going after his lower body to throw him off balance. He credits his technique for his success, and all he could pinpoint was simply getting in the right position when the ball goes up.He’ll continue to throw a medicine ball off the backboard after every practice. But in stark contrast to the tar courts where his craft was honed just several years ago, every time he corrals the ball, his two feet will land softly on hardwood.“Oh yeah, I came from a really far place,” Thompson said. “Now I’m here and I’m in the top rebounders. Wow, this is pretty amazing.” Comments Published on March 5, 2015 at 12:05 am Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman Facebook Twitter Google+
1 El-Hadji Diouf has reopened his long-running feud with former captain Steven Gerrard El-Hadji Diouf has reopened his long-running feud with former Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard after claiming the midfielder “did nothing for his country”.The ex-Senegal international, whose dire spell at Anfield saw him score just six goals in 80 appearances, has history with Gerrard stretching back to 2007 when the Reds skipper criticised him in his autobiography.Diouf has since launched regular attacks, with his latest claiming he is “bigger” than his former captain.“I have no problem with him. He is a strong character and I am a strong character,” the 36-year-old told the BBC.“‘Stevie G was a very good player. People like him in Liverpool, but he never did anything for his country.“I am Mr El Hadji Diouf, Mr Senegal, but he is Mr Liverpool and Senegal is bigger than Liverpool and he has to know that.”Diouf is not fondly remembered for his time in British football – he had spells at Bolton, Sunderland, Blackburn, Rangers, Doncaster and Leeds – and is best known for spitting at opponents and, on one occasion, a Celtic fan.Asked about those incidents he said: “Maybe they used to tell me something I didn’t want to hear. I did that, I paid and now it’s finished.”The feud between Diouf and Gerrard began a decade ago when Gerrard wrote that he “wasn’t Diouf’s number 1 fan”.“I knew which players were hungry, which players had Liverpool at heart. Diouf was just interested in himself. His attitude was all wrong,” said Gerrard.