When the college recruiting process began a few months ago, Triad High School senior Sophie Thompson’s want list was short and simple.
One of the premier basketball players in the Mississippi Valley Conference for the past two years, Thompson wanted a school where she would be no more than three hours from her hometown of Troy and where she would be happy and have a chance to play significant minutes early in her career.
At NAIA Central Methodist University in Fayette, Mo. Thompson hopes she’s hit the jackpot.
A vital player on a Knights team which won 19 games and was among the top Class 3A programs in the metro-east last season, Thompson gave CMU coach Mike Davis a verbal commitment two weeks ago that she will join the Eagles program beginning in the 2016-17 season.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
The 5-foot-10 Thompson, known as one of the top perimeter shooters in the MVC, also considered Truman State University, Maryville University and the University of Missouri at St. Louis (UMSL) .
“Was it a tough choice? Not really. I played basketball with my club team this summer and went to a couple of camps where college coaches come and watch. Coach (Davis) came to one of them and invited me down to see the campus on one of my visits,’’ Thompson said. “When I got there, I loved the campus, the coaches were great, the team was great. I loved everything about it.
“When I got home I knew that Central Methodist was the place where I belonged.’’
Davis, who begins his second stint as the Eagles coach after leading CMU from 1987-99, is getting a high-quality student-athlete in Thompson who averaged 19 points and three rebounds per game last season. CMU finished 15-15 a year ago.
“I know its an NAIA Division I program that was very strong a few years ago when it reached the national finals,’’ Thompson said. “The last couple of years they’ve been right at the .500 mark or a little over that. I’m hoping we can do better then that in the next few years.
“Right now, I’m just glad the recruiting process is over. It got to the point where it became pretty stressful and I really wanted to make a decision before our (high school) season began. I didn’t want to drag it out. I just wanted to be able to focus on us as a team. I want my senior year to be as non stressful as possible.’’
Triad, which returns all five starters from a team which finished 19-9 last season, figures to battle Highland, Civic Memorial and Mascoutah for the MVC championship in ‘15-16 season. Thompson, an all-conference player, needs to have a big season for that to happen.
“We lost some seniors from last year but we’ve still got our starting five back and coach (Josh) Hunt has really been working us hard,” Thompson said. “As for next year in college, I’ll probably be playing the shooting guard spot which is fine because that’s the strength of my game. I shoot the ball from the perimeter.
“I know I’ve got to get quicker and really work on my defense to play at the college level.”
Thompson is unsure on her major at CMU.