Since leaving Ohio State following the 2016-17 season, Trevor Thompson has worked to show how his game has grown.
Now, he’ll have a chance to demonstrate it on national television and potentially against some of his former teammates. Thompson, who was honorable mention all-Big Ten as a junior after averaging 10.6 points and 9.2 rebounds for the Buckeyes before leaving with a year of eligibility remaining, will participate in The Basketball Tournament as a member of team Red Scare.
Yes, that’s a team primarily composed of Dayton alumni. And yes, there’s a bit of a rift between fans of the Flyers and the Buckeyes, as recently evidenced by last year’s TBT matchup between Carmen’s Crew and the Red Scare won by the Ohio State alumni on the path to a championship.
But an opportunity is an opportunity.
"Never get it confused: I’m Ohio State all day," Thompson told The Dispatch. "This is just being competitive and wanting to go against my guys. I’m looking forward to it."
The opportunity to play for the Dayton team was first brought to his attention months ago, Thompson said, when his father, Ryan, took a phone call from a member of the Red Scare’s coaching staff asking about his son’s plans. After leaving Ohio State and going undrafted in 2017, Thompson has fashioned a professional career that included time in the G League, playing internationally in Belgium, France and most recently Lithuania.
While in Belgium, he was reunited with former Ohio State teammate Jae’Sean Tate, who will be making his TBT debut as part of team Big X. It also features former Buckeyes Andrew Dakich, C.J. Jackson and Keyshawn Woods, and Thompson had been hoping to join as well only to learn the roster was already full.
That helped lead him to the opportunity to play for the Red Scare, which received a first-round bye for the 24-team event that will take place July 4-14 at Nationwide Arena. Thompson said he knows a few of the Red Scare players from time spent overseas and recognized a few other names when he scanned the roster.
Should Big X win its first-round game, Thompson and Tate will instead be playing against each other. And should Red Scare win its opening game, and Carmen’s Crew do the same, the two teams would face each other.
"Obviously I want to win, because I’m super competitive, but one of the biggest things because originally I wanted to play with JT because I feel like me and JT because of our chemistry and our history, we could really do damage in the tournament," Thompson said. "It would also be super cool to beat the Ohio State alums, basically our vets who we’ve played against since we were freshmen at Ohio State. They always would whoop on us, so us having the opportunity to whoop up on them would be super cool."
Included on that list are coach Jared Sullinger and active players William Buford, Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas.
"We’re keeping in touch in our group chats," Thompson said. "I know for sure once I get to Columbus and they see me on the opposite team there will be things that will be said, but I’m looking forward to that, honestly."
Throughout the pandemic, Thompson has been working out near the University of Utah, where his girlfriend played. When he takes the court for the tournament, Thompson said he’s hoping to show a more well-rounded game than what Buckeyes fans remember him for. His three-point shooting has been a primary emphasis, Thompson said, as well as
But more importantly, Thompson said he just wants to win – regardless of whom he’s playing against.
"I’m just excited for the opportunity," he said. "Ready to help the Red Scare as much as I can, give them intensity and just try to win. I’m coming in team-first, want-to-win mentality. That’s my biggest thing, try to make as many winning plays as I possibly can to help this team win."