Howard Thompkins didn't imagine his sophomore season was going to be like this. The talented 6-foot-8 forward from Wesleyan High School in Norcross, Ga., endured a lot but put in a memorable season and had time to cut his list down to five high-major programs.
Thompkins watched a close friend and teammate leave for another school. In midseason his coach announced he would step down at the end of the year. Injuries sidelined him and his teammates.
Thompkins was on his way to the Atlanta Tip-Off Club awards ceremony when his family car hit a bump in the road. Shortly after he doubled over in pain and was in the emergency room for an appendectomy.
"It has been a wild year," he said. "This was a time for the worse but we'll work through it.
"I learned that nothing is promised. You got to work hard all the time. The harder you work, the farther you go. Right now I'm trying to work as hard as I can to get as far as I can."
No worries there. Thompkins has quickly emerged as a must get guy in the class of 2008 for the high-major programs. After averaging over 25 points and 14 rebounds a game, he said he is ready to prove that the recruiting attention is warranted.
"Last year was a big year with AAU and this year will probably be all eyes on me all the time," Thompkins said. "Right now I'm playing to get better. I've narrowed it down to five schools and I'm focused on getting to those five schools. Once I get to the school that I chose, I can step in a play right away. That is why I am focusing on getting better."
Tompkins said Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Illinois and North Carolina round out his top five heading into the AAU season.
"There is just something about them that just attracted me to them. North Carolina has always been my dream. I go to Georgia Tech all the time. It's just up-tempo all the time. I'd love to play there. They have big guards. Illinois, they run a fast paced game and they get a lot of dunks. Florida State, I'm just attracted to them. Florida – I like Billy Donovan. He played against my father in the parks in New York."
Thompkins will suit up for the Atlanta Celtics 16U program this spring and summer.