Home Darius Thompson impresses in first UVA game: More starter’s minutes in the offing?

Darius Thompson impresses in first UVA game: More starter’s minutes in the offing?


Thompson_Darius_14MRedshirt sophomore Darius Thompson wasn’t surprised that he got the start in his opening UVA game. Thompson, a transfer from Tennessee, had been working with the first string in practice in recent days.

“I wouldn’t say I was nervous,” said Thompson, who scored 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting in 23 minutes on the floor, with six rebounds, four assists, no turnovers and three steals, in Virginia’s 87-48 win over Morgan State on Friday.

“It was just a weird feeling being out there again. It has basically been a year and a half since I’ve been out there. It was fun going out there, and I’m looking forward to competing the rest of the season with my team,” Thompson said.

Thompson is in the starting role that came open when Justin Anderson decided to forego his senior season at UVA for the NBA Draft, where he was taken in the first round by Dallas.

The 6’4” guard showed Anderson-like athleticism on a rim-rattling alley-oop dunk that ended the first half with authority.

Let’s go to Thompson for the breakdown of the play.

“At the end of the possession they were coming down trying to isolation and get a last-second shot, and London [Perrantes] happened to make a big block and Marial [Shayok] kicked it out to him. He happened to kick it out to Devon [Hall], so it was a 2-on-1 situation.  Devon decided to throw it up to me, so I just had to go get it.”

That was also JA-like, for those keeping score at home. Doing something spectacular, downplaying it, and sidestepping whatever credit is due to throw it to his teammates.

Thompson will fit in very well with this team.

“He’s long and he gets his hands on balls in the passing lane on defense. He’s good in the open court. He gives us a dimension that we haven’t had,” coach Tony Bennett said.

Bennett has several options at the three. Evan Nolte filled in there when Anderson went down to injury last year, and was probably the favorite going into the preseason to get the starter’s minutes, but Nolte came off the bench Friday night, getting three points on 1-of-5 shooting in 12 uneventful minutes.

Marial Shayok is another option, but Shayok was largely ineffective Friday night, going scoreless on 0-of-4 shooting from the field, with four rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes.

Devon Hall was a bit of a pleasant surprise, scoring 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting with four assists in 22 minutes.

For now, Bennett seems to be leaning to giving Thompson the starter’s minutes, but expect to see more of Hall.

“I think Darius gives us another ball-handler out there since he played some point guard at Tennessee,” Bennett said. “I like the notion of having three ball-handling guards out there, and I like Devon and Marial’s scoring lifts off the bench.”

– Story by Chris Graham



Have a guest column, letter to the editor, story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected]. Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.