Sam Thompson commits to Ohio State
CHICAGO -- Whitney Young senior forward Sam Thompson understood that committing to Ohio State on Sunday means he won't be liked when he travels to Illinois and Northwestern in the years to come.
"It adds the element of [home]," Thompson said. "I hope that the crowds are against me. That makes it all the more fun."
Thompson had been one of the bigger in-state names waiting to commit before he chose Ohio State over Florida on Sunday. Thompson, who is 6-foot-7, is the 12th-ranked small forward and 56th-ranked overall Class of 2011 player by ESPN Scouts Inc.
Thompson decided on the Buckeyes for their academics, the basketball program's recent success and where he'll fit in coach Thad Matta's system as a swingman.
"That was important," Thompson said of his role. "I definitely looked at Evan Turner. That wasn't the whole basis on my decision-making. I looked at all the wings that have played under coach Matta over the years. I think he really lets them play. The wings in his offense are allowed to make a lot of plays at both ends of the court."
Thompson's decision wasn't an easy one for him. He said during the process he relied heavily on his parents and the coaching staffs at Whitney Young and the Mac Irvin Fire, his club team. He especially was grateful for the guidance of Fire coach Ronald Coleman.
"It was definitely stressful," Thompson said. "I definitely wanted to make the right choice. I feel strongly that I made the right decision. [Coach Coleman] gave me his honest opinion. He helped me stay humble. He was someone to lean on."
Thompson averaged 10 points and eight rebounds for Whitney Young last season.
Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.