It was 31 years ago when the best player in Los Angeles was Stephen Thompson, a high-flying 6-foot-3 guard at Crenshaw High known for his leaping ability, dunks and scoring skills.
He averaged 34 points to help the Cougars win consecutive state championships.
Thompson was in Sacramento last Saturday watching his son, Ethan, lead Torrance Bishop Montgomery to the CIF state Open Division championship by scoring 26 points in a 74-67 final victory over Roseville Woodcreek.
“It’s unbelievable,” the father said in admiration of his youngest son.
What a season it was for Ethan, a 6-foot-5 senior who averaged 22.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists and led the Knights to five victories over nationally ranked teams in the final month of the season.
Like his father, Thompson rose to the top. He has been selected the Los Angeles Times boys’ basketball player of the year.
Headed to Oregon State, Thompson will go down as the best player in Coach Doug Mitchell’s 28 seasons at Bishop Montgomery. He has even surpassed his older brother, Stephen Jr., who is already at Oregon State.
“He doesn’t have a hole or weakness,” Mitchell said. “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.”
From the time he enrolled at Bishop Montgomery as a freshman to his final game, when he finished with 1,948 career points, Thompson was always trying to get better. “Things got easier to do — being a teammate, being a leader,” he said.
Said Mitchell: “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.”
Thompson was so well liked and respected around campus that it helped ignite loyalty from Bishop Montgomery fans coming out in large numbers to support the team.