In preparation for the 2008-09 basketball season, I will be profiling key contributors for the Tar Heels. Today’s profile looks at senior F Deon Thompson
Weight: 240 lbs
2008-09 Stats: 38 gms, 10.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.1 bpg
Career: 115 gms, 7.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 0.9 bpg
What Happened Last Season
Deon Thompson contributed as a role player on the national title team starting 38 games at the power forward slot beside Tyler Hansbrough. Early in the season, when Hansbrough was out recovering from a shin injury, Thompson looked very good. Granted the competition was not stellar, still Thompson showed some signs of being a very good player. Upon Hansbrough's return, Thompson receded back from the spotlight a bit and there was plenty of clamoring for Ed Davis to start in his place since defensively Thompson looked soft. Overall Thompson tended towards inconsistency, even in the NCAA Tournament where he basically disappeared against LSU and Gonzaga but came back strong, especially on defense against Oklahoma. In the title game, Thompson scored nine key points early as a part of UNC's opening shock and awe salvo that decided the contest by halftime.
Outlook For This Season
Roy Williams has said that his conversations with Deon Thompson have keyed on the idea that Thompson is not Tyler Hansbrough, nor should he try to be. At this point it is possible Thompson could end up being, at best, the third offensive option on the floor if Ed Davis' game lives up to potential and John Henson and/or Will Graves can produce at the three spot. The opportunity for Thompson is to be a reliable offensive option when needed but not have the pressure of being the go to guy on this team.
I really could pull last season's profile of Thompson and offer up the same concerns. Thompson needs to play tough and be a better defender. UNC will be a more defensively focused team due to personnel changes and the fact the offense has some uncertainty to it in the initial stages of this season. Having quality defense at every position is a must. The other concern is that Thompson simply disappears for games at a time or allows himself to be overshadowed by another player. As a senior leader on this team, Thompson has to have his head in the game and be willing to make plays.
Fourteen points, eight rebounds and two blocks per game. Give or take a point/rebound here and there. Again, Thompson does not have to be the guy on this team but he can certainly be a dangerous offensive option alongside Davis. There were times when Thompson showed his potential, the key and hope for this season is he does more often than not.