Friday, July 29, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Former Mustang duo teaming up again with Hogs

By NATE ALLEN Special to The Leader

Though both grew up around Forrest City, Trey Thompson and R.J. Glasper didn’t play much basketball together except one high school season.

A great season that was for the Forrest City Mustangs. Then senior star big man Thompson, of nearby Madison, and precocious sophomore guard, Glasper, led Forrest City to a 25-3 campaign and a state championship.

They now play together again at the University of Arkansas. Junior forward Thompson and freshman walk-on guard Glasper practice this week with coach Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks as they prepare for a four-game exhibition tour of Spain.

While excelling at For-rest City these last two years, including leading the Mustangs to another state championship last season, Glasper has has kept up with his old high school teammate’s evolution from seldom-played freshman to key sophomore reserve with a big chance this season.

“He is more aggressive,” Glasper said. “You can see he’s more mobile and stronger and looking for his shot more. And I like that. I think we are going to need that. In high school, he was one of the biggest kids instate so I had to play off to him and feed it to him in the post.”

Glasper said Thompson adroitly returned the favor.

“One of the big things about Trey is he is an underrated passer,” Glasper said. “He is a really good passer.”

In Glasper, Thompson sees a walk-on smart enough to know he’s not instantly crashing the veteran guards hierarchy, yet exudes confidence he will fit in somewhere.

“He’s a hard worker,” Thompson said. “He’s a shooter but he can get everybody involved. He’s a facilitator.”

And he’s eager to learn.

“It’s fun,” Thompson said of reuniting in college with his old high school homey. “When he asked before he came what it’s like, I told him it’s hard work but I am going to help him out and show him the ropes.”

Thompson learned to show the ropes after after being worked over on the ropes.

He practiced against since turned pro 6-11 Bobby Portis two seasons ago when Portis was SEC Player of the Year. Last season, and again this one, he practices against vastly improved senior All-SEC center Moses Kingsley.

“The year vs. Bobby, he helped me a lot,” Thompson said. “I went against him a lot and I watched how he worked and where he is now. I took that from his game and added that to my game and maybe that will help me. Moses the same way. He took that from Bobby and spent countless hours in the gym. I am just looking forward to working with Moses in his last year.”

Does he foresee being paired in tandem with Kingsley, aside from spelling Kingsley?

“That’s up to Coach,” Thompson said. “I just have got to stay ready when my number is called.”

And make sure his weight numbers are less when the games start to count in November.

Thompson overcame a massive weight problem two years ago, but says it’s still a battle.

“I have been in the weight room a lot and gained a lot of muscle mass but I am still trying to lose a little bit of that fat that I still have,” Thompson said. “I feel better and a lot more explosive than I was, but I still want to get down a little bit. I am at 270 and I want to get down to 265 or 260 before November.”

Thompson said that will make him quicker defensively, and that’s the quickest way to play more for Anderson.

“Coach let us know that the people who are going to play defense and play hard are the people that are going to play,” Thompson said.

That gives Glasper a chance, Glasper believes, even as a walk-on, albeit a walk-on who spurned numerous smaller college scholarship offers to be a Hog.

“If I work hard and play defense, I will get some minutes,” Glasper said. “For my team in high school, I had to score to help them win. On this team, when I get a chance to score, I will score. I just want to be a lockdown defender and get other people involved and do what it takes to win. I love to win. And coach said, ‘I don’t care if you are a walk-on, if you can help me win, you are going to be on the floor.”