ATHENS -– Georgia sophomore forward Trey Thompkins has made his decision: He’ll forgo the NBA draft and remain at UGA for his junior season in 2010-11.
Thompkins revealed the decision in impromptu fashion Thursday night at the UGA Tipoff Club’s end-of-season banquet at Athens Country Club.
“Don’t worry, Coach, I’m coming back,” Thompkins said when coach Mark Fox alluded from the podium to the stay-or-go decision facing the first-team All-SEC player.
Thompkins’ words drew a long, loud ovation from the crowd of 200-plus and this reaction from an unsuspecting Fox: “God bless you, Trey.”
Thompkins, Georgia’s leading scorer and rebounder this past season, said in an interview immediately following the banquet that his decision is firm and final, although the deadline to enter the draft is 10 days away.
“I’m coming back,” he said.
Thompkins had been considering for the past month whether to enter the draft or remain at Georgia for another season. He said he reached his decision late Wednesday night.
“I was sitting in my room, thinking,” he said. “I was up in the air until [then]. It hit me that I want to stay in school. . . . It just popped in my head last night.”
Thompkins said he didn’t alert Fox or anyone else that he might reveal the decision at the banquet.
“My parents didn’t even know that was going to happen,” Thompkins said. “Coach just made it easy for me to announce it, so I did.”
Fox unwittingly triggered Thompkins’ announcement by referring to a comment made earlier in the banquet by assistant coach Stacey Palmore, who had said he was looking forward to having Thompkins back. “Now, Coach Palmore was calling you out about next year,” Fox said. “I’m not going to do that.”
At that point, Thompkins ended the suspense.
“I was shocked/not shocked when he said it,” Fox said. “Because in my heart that’s what I felt like he would probably do in the end, but I was surprised that he mentioned it tonight.”
Fox said he is proud of how maturely Thompkins handled the decision-making process, especially as many underclassmen less accomplished than him declared for the draft in recent weeks. Thompkins was second in the SEC in scoring (17.7 points per game) and fourth in rebounds (8.3 per game) this past season.
“You see it on the ticker every night. There’s somebody else on the ticker [entering the draft], and you’re scratching your head,” Fox said. “Then you see a guy who has a legitimate chance and a legitimate decision to make, and he makes a mature one like that. It makes you feel good.”
A big factor in the decision, Thompkins said, is the potential he sees for the 2010-11 Georgia basketball team. Teammate Travis Leslie, the Dogs’ second leading scorer this past season, earlier announced he also will return for his junior year.
“This team can be great,” Thompkins said. “I’ve got a passion to win, and I definitely see it in the future for us.”