ZHS Junior Point Guard, Isaiah Thompson, Is Full Steam Ahead to Purdue
Writer: Jon Shoulders
Photographer: Brian Brosmer
For many star high school athletes, the decision on which college to attend can be a lengthy, difficult process. For Isaiah Thompson, a standout point guard for Zionsville High School’s varsity basketball squad, it came fairly naturally – and it came barely halfway through his junior year.
The six-foot Thompson was the first to commit to Purdue University’s 2019 recruiting class – officially announcing his decision on January 7 – and he says the announcement was, in many ways, years in the making. His older brother P.J. is currently a senior on Purdue’s team, and Isaiah spent many a weekend in West Lafayette over the past four years soaking up the Boilermaker atmosphere and getting to know his brother’s teammates and coaching staff.
“Every time I went down there to hang out with the guys I felt like I was one of them,” Isaiah says. “That was a huge factor in my decision. I’ve developed a good relationship with the coaches and they let me know how interested they were in me. They’ve been very supportive of me along the way.”
With a consistent top 10 ranking among Indiana recruits according to 247Sports.com, Isaiah has made the most of his playing time as a Zionsville Eagle, averaging more than 20 points and three assists per game this season. He celebrated his commitment to Purdue with a simple message on Twitter that characterized the feeling Lafayette gave him since he first began visiting the campus: “There’s no place like home.”
The game of basketball goes even further back in the Thompson family than just Isaiah and P.J. – their father LaSalle played at Ball State and Indiana State, and subsequently in overseas leagues for several years. Since the first grade Isaiah was playing hoops with brother and dad, and even before high school years approached, the notion of playing Division I ball began to lurk in the back of his mind.
“I was always working out with my dad and my brother – you always want to compete with your big brother growing up,” Isaiah says of P.J., also a point guard and a graduate of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School. “It was always in a fun way though, and he always made me a better player. As a kid, I dreamed about playing in the Big Ten, and I feel like it’s one of the best conferences in the country. I figured why not commit now.”
Adding to Isaiah’s excitement about being a future Boilermaker is the wealth of talent among the players who have committed to the school for the 2018-2019 season, including Eric Hunter, a 6’3” shooting guard currently attending Tindley School in Indy, Trevion Williams, a power forward from Sterling Heights, Michigan and Emmanuel Dowuona, a center from Miami, Florida.
While Isaiah received scholarship offers from Butler and Miami of Ohio, as well as strong interest from several other schools, his visits to Purdue gave him the impression of a family atmosphere that he felt would foster success. Multiple discussions with head coach Matt Painter and his assistants allowed Isaiah to get familiar with the team’s system, further strengthening his resolve to become a Boilermaker.
“I felt like it was the best fit for me,” he says. “It’s where I want to be and I’m excited. And I get to play in front of the Paint Crew – the best fans in the country.”
With a taller, sleeker physique than his brother, Isaiah feels he has developed a playing style all his own, but says he continues to try to emulate the work ethic and dedication P.J. has developed both on and off the court during his career at Purdue – a career that has established the senior as a sensible shot taker with dependable passing and ball control skills.
So what does P.J. think of Isaiah’s upcoming collegiate prospects?
“He’s been real supportive and always tells me to keep working hard and not slack off,” Isaiah says. “Seeing how serious he’s taken it and how he’s improved his game is inspiring. He’s definitely showed me that you have to mean business at that level. So I feel like I have a big advantage in that way.”