football

Georgia sophomore off to hot start

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Sophomore Howard Thompkins can bring out a crowd. The 15-year-old played in front of five high-major programs last Friday night and suffered through a disappointing 23-point loss. A day later, the 6-foot-8 forward did something that most youngsters do. He responded with a big-time career high in the points column.
Thompkins scored 27 points and pulled down seven rebounds in a 93-70 loss to East Hall High School on Friday night. Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt and assistant coaches from Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina were watching on the sidelines.
The region loss was a tough one for the poised sophomore. He was understandably upset with his play, particularly with his seven turnovers. The next day, Thompkins knew he needed to do something to respond to the defeat. No problem.
He responded with a career-high 51 points in a 74-40 win over Providence Christian. More notably, the sophomore hit nine of his 12 attempts from downtown.
"That East Hall game made me mad," Thompkins said. "Just kidding."
51 points doesn't sound like kidding.
"I figured we had to put someone away like we got put away to prove that (the East Hall game) wasn't a joke," Thompkins said. "We know we can compete with anybody and that win was letting people know that we have some game."
Thompkins's perimeter outburst is a perfect compliment to his efficient post game.
In a talented class of 2008, Thompkins is one of the top players in his class. Since his productive summer, he's taken his game to another level.
"I'm not doing anything different. There isn't a secret I have up my sleeve or anything," Thompkins said. "I think I just started working harder and the success has been coming because of that. Hard work pays off."
That success has translated to a 13-3 record and a number of games with 30 points or more. In the last five games, Thompkins is averaging a staggering 37.2 points a contest.
"He doesn't act like he's arrived," Wesleyan head coach Bill Bufton said. "Howard is still doing the things he needs to do to improve. He's working on his jump shot. He sees there is always something to improve. The kid is the complete package."
College recruiters think that, too. Outside of the five schools that checked on him over the weekend, Thompkins said he's also hearing from North Carolina, Illinois, Virginia, Georgetown and Florida State.
Bucking the trend of committing early, Thompkins isn't in a rush to take his name off the board for a long while.
"No way," Thompkins said. "That's just too early."
Besides, Thompkins has other things on his mind this year. Like taking care of business on the hardwood.
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