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Bishop Montgomery basketball star Ethan Thompson following in dad and brother’s airborne footsteps

Bishop Montgomery's Ethan Thompson takes a shot with Mater Dei's Bailey Stout defending on March 18, 2015.
Bishop Montgomery’s Ethan Thompson takes a shot with Mater Dei’s Bailey Stout defending on March 18, 2015.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Torrance Bishop Montgomery High Coach Doug Mitchell, in his usual squeaky, emphatic voice, was chewing out star basketball player Ethan Thompson in the huddle during a timeout.

Thompson looked straight into Mitchell’s eyes and showed no emotion. Then the guard began nodding when an assistant quietly offered additional guidance.

Soon, Thompson was on the court, driving the lane and scoring as the buzzer sounded to end the half. It was vintage Thompson: He listens, then responds without drama and without questioning his coaches.

“They understood from an early age a coach and a player’s relationship, and their job is to execute,” said Thompson’s father, Stephen Sr., an assistant coach at Oregon State and the father of Ethan and older brother Stephen Jr., an Oregon State guard. “Having high character is important.”

Thompson’s talent and no-drama temperament should make him the envy of every high school basketball coach in America. He’s a straight-A student. He’s got hops similar to his father, who was one of the greatest City Section players of the 1980s at Crenshaw High. From dunks to three-pointers, Thompson can do it all.

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“He’s been a great player for us, but he’s playing at a level right now I’ve never had a player play at. I’m talking about anybody in 28 years,” Mitchell said.

Bishop Montgomery has 15 consecutive victories since an opening loss to Oakland Bishop O’Dowd, when star players David Singleton and Jordan Schakel were injured. Thompson’s play has helped the Knights maintain their status among the top three teams in Southern California.

He has grown to nearly 6 feet 5, and even his father is impressed with the way he can take off and glide through the air. Stephen Sr. — then known as Stevie — was a sight to behold during his high school days playing for Coach Willie West.

Bishop Montgomery senior is son of former Crenshaw standout

“He can still dunk,” Thompson said of his father.

Well, sort of.

“I don’t think I can 360 anymore, but occasionally I can do a one-hand dunk,” Stephen Sr. said.

The elder basketball star now wonders who the better jumper might be.

“Right now, I give him the nod,” Thompson’s dad said. “It’s hard at 48. I can’t go back and remember when I was 16. I was pretty good, though.”

So is Thompson.

He’s set to join his father and brother at Oregon State next season. His mother, Amy, stayed behind so he could finish his high school career in Southern California, while his father and older brother live in Corvallis, Ore.

The family’s way of looking at life is simple.

“You just have to listen and respect everyone older than you and do your best,” Thompson said.

Thompson’s mother texts her husband during games, giving him play-by-play details. Then Thompson sends the video to his dad.

“He watches every single game,” Thompson said. “I don’t know how he has time in his busy schedule. He calls after every single game, tells me what I did wrong, what I did right and helps me get better as a player.”

Thompson first showed his talent when he played with his brother two seasons ago and Bishop Montgomery won the Southern Section Open Division championship. This season’s opening loss allowed the school to go under the radar while Chino Hills and Chatsworth Sierra Canyon took the spotlight as the top teams, but the Knights are beginning to click.

“I think we’re going to peak later,” Mitchell said.

With Thompson, later might be soon.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

Twitter: latsondheimer


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