CHEYENNE – Reed Thompson has had plenty of time to come to terms with the comparisons.
They were to be expected, considering his older brother, Hunter, chose the in-state university after being one of the most highly sought after basketball recruits to ever come out of Wyoming.
Reed wants to turn those comparisons on their head, though.
“I want to build upon the name he made for our family, but I also want to make a name for myself and leave my own legacy,” the Pine Bluffs sophomore said. “I want to do better than he did and show him up. He always tells me I am capable of it, and I believe him.
“I don’t want to be known as ‘Hunter Thompson’s little brother,’ I want him to be known as ‘Reed Thompson’s older brother.’”
The younger Thompson is making strides toward that goal.
The 6-foot-2 guard is tied for the third-best scoring average on the No. 3-ranked Hornets’ roster at 9.3 points per game. He is their third-leading rebounder, and second on the team in assists per game.
His scoring average has steadily climbed since the calendar turned to 2020. Games where Reed scores in the teens have become a regular occurrence.
“He is a tremendous talent to have on the team,” Hornets coach Tyler Kimzey said. “He creates mismatches, whether he is inside or outside on offense or defense. He can do it all.
“He has really been more aggressive, shooting the ball with confidence and getting to the rim, knocking down free throws and dribbling with confidence. We always tell him that an even defender is a beaten defender, and he has gotten a lot better at getting to the rim.”
Reed’s strength is his versatility, Kimzey added.
“If a guard steps out and guards him, we’ll run him off a screen and get him down in the post,” the coach said. “If a post steps out and guards him, we’ll keep him outside and he’ll knock down shots. He could be a true point guard if that’s what we asked of him.”
As a freshman, Reed averaged 3.2 points to help Pine Bluffs go 23-2 and finish as Class 2A runners-up. There were times he appeared afraid to shoot the ball, and deferred to his older teammates, senior Michael Shain said. He is growing out of that deferential mentality.
“He was still passing up on shots at the start of this year,” Shain said, “but he has been a lot better about that lately, and has been playing huge for us.”
Reed wanted to have a bigger impact this season, and spent the summer playing in tournaments with the Wyoming BEASTs. He also was a fixture in Pine Bluffs’ gym, where he worked on an array of skills, including a couple of sessions where Hunter imparted the finer points of post play.
High school basketball players are limited to six quarters of action each night. Many varsity role players split their six quarters between the varsity and junior varsity teams.
Reed starts for the Hornets’ varsity squad, but still mixes in two quarters of JV each night. He likes the arrangement for reasons beyond merely developing his game.
“I like it because it allows me to get shots up and really get my shot locked in,” he said. “In varsity, I can come out shooting pretty good because I’ve had that time on JV to warm up. It gets me ready to play varsity.”
Reed said he can’t specifically remember opposing fans heckling him about where he stacks up to his older brother. The most common heckle has to do with the struggles of the University of Wyoming basketball team, where Hunter is starting as a redshirt sophomore forward.
“They like to talk trash to me about how the Cowboys haven’t done very well the past two years,” Reed said while shaking his head. “I just try to block it out and play ball.”
Kimzey and his assistants have made a conscious effort to not compare the Thompson brothers. Reed has impressed them with how he deals with the comparisons.
“He knows he is Reed and not Hunter,” Kimzey said. “He knows people are going to say whatever they’re going to say.
“I love Hunter to death, but (Reed) is better at a lot of things than Hunter was, and Hunter has things he is better at. They’re completely different players.”
On the court
The Pine Bluffs boys (9-6 overall, 3-0 2A Southeast Quadrant) host fifth-ranked Southeast (13-5, 2-1) at 7 tonight. The third-ranked Lady Hornets (12-4, 3-0) also host the No. 5 Southeast girls (12-6, 2-1) at 5:30 p.m.
Pine Bluffs hosts Glenrock in a Southeast Quadrant doubleheader starting at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Burns girls and boys play at Newcastle starting at 6 tonight. They host Mitchell, Nebraska, starting at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
The top-ranked Cheyenne Central girls (14-1 overall) play at No. 3 Thunder Basin (12-5) at 6 tonight in Gillette. They play at Campbell County (6-10) at 1 p.m. Saturday in Gillette.
The No. 1 Central boys (14-1) play at fourth-ranked Thunder Basin (13-4) at 7:30 tonight, and Campbell County (8-8) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
The second-ranked Cheyenne East girls (15-2) play at Campbell County at 6 tonight, and Thunder Basin at noon Saturday. The No. 2-ranked East boys (13-4) take on Campbell County at 7:30 tonight and Thunder Basin at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Cheyenne South also is on the road this weekend. The Lady Bison (4-12) face Sheridan (2-13) at 5:30 tonight, and Natrona County (9-5) at 1 p.m. Saturday in Casper. The South boys (7-9) take on third-ranked Sheridan (9-6) at 7 tonight, and Natrona (4-10) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.