Whenever you need a big shot, he is there. Today’s player is one of the most unheralded players in Purdue history, but he has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
P.J. Thompson – Sr.
Indianapolis, IN (Brebeuf Prep)
5’10”, 185 pounds
2017-18 Projection: Starter at Point Guard
P.J. is not a score first point guard. He is also not an assist machine. Instead, he is a savvy, smart player that plays within himself and knows his role exactly. Last season he averaged a career high 7.4 points per game, but only 2.9 assists. On Purdue’s roster its forward (Vince Edwards) averages more assists than its point guard, but Thompson is not going to be a guy that screws up.
First off, he has an absurd 4:1 assist to turnover ratio in his career. He is not going to turn the ball over, as he has yet to have a season where he averages more than one per game. Last year he had 102 assists and only 26 turnovers. The year before it was 93 assists and only 23 turnovers.
Second, he is one of the team’s best three-point shooters. He doesn’t shoot for volume, but he picks his spots and the last two years he has comfortably been over 40% from long range. He averages more htan one made triple per game.
Third, that one made triple per game usually comes in a gigantic spot:
· In the second Round game against Iowa State P.J. had only 5 points, but he hit a huge three with 3 minutes left to erase Iowa State’s only lead of the game. The Cyclones had just taken the lead 11 seconds earlier and PJ buried an open look to put Purdue back in front almost immediately. We would never trail again, and he also hit the icing free throws with 8 seconds left.
· At Penn State with Purdue leading 72-70 in overtime he came up with an offensive rebound with 15 seconds left. The Nittnay Lions had to foul him, and he iced the game with two free throws.
· At Indiana he again only had 5 points, but with 2:33 left he came up with a huge offensive rebound and putback to put Purdue in front 61-57 with 2:29 left. He also hit 3 of 4 free throws inside the final 37 seconds for the win.
· At Maryland he had 8 points, but his three-pointer with 3:23 left gave Purdue its first lead. It was also his defensive rebound with 16 seconds left that set up Carsen Edwards’ winning free throws. We were a team with a human double-double All-American, yet this was the third big rebound a 5’10” point guard had.
· At Ohio State he only had 6 points, but a three with 1:24 left gave Purdue a 75-71 lead. Purdue would win 76-75.
What stands out to me is that none of these happened in the friendly confines of Mackey Arena. Purdue won six road games in Big Ten play last season, which was a large reason it won the Big Ten. PJ hit an absolutely huge shot in four of those games. He hit a fifth in an NCAA tournament game against a quality opponent.
This is why his extended name is PJ “Big Shot” Thompson.