Should Trey Thompkins decide to hold a basketball camp one day, he will teach the youth of America all about his keys to success. The jump shot. The rebound. The pass. The drive. The pedicure.
“He gets them a lot,” said Dustin Ware, his Georgia teammate. “I started noticing and I was like, ‘Trey, what’s up with your feet?’ Normally his toes are all shiny and stuff. He takes care of his feet.”
The problem is that for most of this season, Thompkins’ feet have not taken care of him. The junior was projected to be the SEC’s player of the year, but he has spent too many hours with his feet in ice buckets. He suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason. Then he was kicked in the shin.
Then came the ingrown toenail, the apparent result of a sudden lack of pampering. No kidding.
“I never had one of those before,” he said. “I think it came from not going to get pedicures any more. It might be a sign to start going again.”
Thompkins might be the first basketball player in history to reject a shoe deal in favor of something more in the open-toed variety.
Fortunately, his ankle, shin and tootsies appear to be back to full strength. When the Bulldogs opened play in the SEC tournament Thursday, we saw the Thompkins we expected this year. We saw a difference-maker. We saw the kind of player that can lift Georgia deep into this week’s SEC tournament and possibly make them a significant threat in the NCAA tournament.
Thompkins scored 22 points, sank three of five three-point attempts –he was 17-for-66 coming into the game — and pulled down 10 rebounds, a one-man Auburn-wrecking crew. He was allowed to rest his feet for the final six minutes of the Bulldogs’ 69-51 blowout at the Georgia Dome.
Both Thompkins and his team have struggled with consistency this season. But it’s noteworthy that the player says this is the healthiest he has felt all season, something coaching Mark Fox noticed in practice earlier this week.
“Tuesday was probably the first time in practice I thought, ‘Wow, he’s looking healthy,’” Fox said afterward. “I think he has some confidence because he felt better.”
Let’s start with the feet because, come on, how often do we get to talk about a basketball player and his pedicures?
“My mom always told me it might help the way I feel on the court,” Thompkins said. “It actually did. Then once I stopped, it hurt me.”
How long has he been getting them?
“Oh, years,” he said.
Does he get his toes painted too?
Would you tell me if you did?
Why did he stop?
“No clue. I kept putting it off. It turned into two months. Then that [ingrown nail] came.”
He had it surgically removed last week. He was questionable for the Alabama game last Saturday but played with extra padding in his shoe, scoring 15 points in a loss. But his magic toes were back against Auburn.
Ware said he had a pedicure once just to try it, but commented: “I’m just not a feet guy. I don’t like people touching my feet.”
I’ll try to remember that.
Seriously, if Thompkins continues to play like this, he can frost his hair and light candles and incense in the pregame. He has taken some criticism this season for his play. But a sore ankle, shin or toe is not conducive to moving or shooting great on a basketball court.
Ware again: “Just knowing him, he’s mad because even when he’s out there he can’t be him. When he’s playing as well as he did today, it’s big.”
The Dogs won in a blowout even though they shot only 41 percent. But they often had open shots because Auburn had to focus its defense on Thompkins (not that it helped).
Thompkins said he has done more “soaking and icing than I’ve ever done in my life” this season.
“Hopefully in other people’s eyes I’ve done my job,” he said. “I’ve done the best that I can and that’s all I can do.”
And now, his secret is out.
By Jeff Schultz