Ethan Thompson was already an outstanding basketball player heading into his senior season at Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance, Calif.
However, the 6-foot-5, 180-pound guard – the son of OSU assistant coach Stephen Thompson
Sr. and the younger brother of OSU junior-to-be Stephen Thompson Jr.
– was not content to accept the status quo and simply glide through his final season of high school basketball.
He had individual and team goals to meet. He knew he could not accomplish them by resting on his laurels; he had to challenge himself to grow, even if it meant leaving his comfort zone.
"In order for me to get better, I had to work hard on my skills but I also had to be a better teammate and leader on and off the court," said Ethan, who will rejoin his father and sibling at OSU for the 2017-18 season. "A lot of the younger guys were looking up to me, and I had to embrace that [leadership] role.
"It's something I grew into. My personality isn't laid-back; I'm more shy" than boisterous and outgoing. "I prefer to lead by example rather than telling people what to do.
"But I got better at that. It was something I grew into. Before the season I set some individual and team goals, and we accomplished most of them, including winning the Open Division state title."
By any measure, Thompson had a spectacular senior season, and thus enters OSU as one of the most-decorated recruits in program history.
He was named a MaxPreps First Team All-American and earned California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Open Division, John R. Wooden and Los Angeles Times
Player of the Year honors after averaging 22.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists while leading BMHS to the CIF Open Division state championship.
He scored the final 26 of his 1,948 career points in a 74-67 victory over Roseville Woodcreek in the title game. It was Bishop Montgomery's fifth win over a nationally-ranked team in the final month of the season.
He was chosen to play in the Ballislife All-American Game on Saturday, May 6 at Long Beach City College in Long Beach, Calif.
Bishop Montgomery coach Doug Mitchell called Ethan the best player he has coached in his 28 seasons at the school.
"He doesn't have a hole or weakness," Mitchell told the Los Angeles Times.
"He's good at everything.
"He's a good rebounder, he can finish at the rim, he's a strong defender, he can play point guard. He's so versatile. He's consistently gotten better and that doesn't always happen.
"A lot of times players have a good junior year and don't make that big a jump. He took a big jump. I really think the experience playing for the Puerto Rican junior national team and playing all over the world helped."
Ethan is rated as the 49th
-best recruit in the country by ESPN.
"[Thompson] has an ideal frame with long arms and good athleticism," ESPN wrote in its evaluation of the 6-foot-5, 180-pound wing. "He has an advanced skill set for a player of his youth.
"He handles the ball well in transition and he's an astute passer. He has evolving mid-range skills and he can score at all three levels. His 3-point shot is solid and his release looks tight."
He is already very familiar with the rest of the team, through his family connections. He's excited to come to Corvallis this summer and begin playing his part in helping the Beavers rebound from a sub-par season and return to the NCAA tournament after a one-year absence.
"A lot of key pieces are coming back, and we'll have a lot more experience," he said. "They were a pretty young team [in 2016-17]; I'm looking for that group to lead us and the 2017 recruiting class will help out in any way we can.
"Coach [Wayne] Tinkle does a great job of getting character players who make the right decisions. I will be making the right decisions as well and that makes for a strong bond, being around good character guys."
Tinkle said Thompson is a multi-dimensional player who can play several positions, and also stop the opponent from scoring.
"He's a highly-skilled, very competitive, tough-nosed perimeter player who will add a lot of talent to our group," Tinkle said. "He's a very capable defender, loves to mix it up and loves to guard the other team's best player.
"He also rebounds it very well for a guard. He brings toughness and we are looking forward to having him in a Beaver uniform. I know he'll do great things for us."
Ethan, who turns 18 years of age on May 4, will graduate from BMHS this spring. He carries a 4.17 grade-point average and has not decided on a major but loves math and enjoys problem-solving.
He will join another 6-5 standout guard recruit, Zach Reichle of Wilsonville High School in Wilsonville, Ore., on the 2017-18 Beavers. Reichle led Wilsonville to a repeat 5A state championship at Gill Coliseum in March, and earned Oregon Gatorade Player of the Year honors after averaging 24.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.1 steals.
"We have developed a great relationship," through texting, Ethan said. "Zach is a great guy who does well in the classroom too, so we have that in common to build on."
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