March 9, 2010

Thompkins tabbed to All-SEC team

Trey Thompkins joked with operations coordinator Mark Pope after being informed that head coach Mark Fox wanted to see him in his office Tuesday morning.

"I just told Coach Pope, whatever it was, I didn't do it," said Thompkins, after being told that he was named as a unanimous selection to the SEC Coaches All-SEC team, one of five league players to earn such an honor.

"I think it's very deserving," Fox said. "I told him it's an honor and deserves to be recognized. I think it's terrific for him. No disrespect to you guys (media), but when your opposing coaches pick you, that's certainly evidence of great respect."

Thompkins joins DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall of Kentucky, Jermaine Beal of Vanderbilt and Devan Downey of South Carolina as the four other unanimous picks. Three remaining players completed the 8-man All-SEC first team: Patrick Patterson of Kentucky, Wayne Chism of Tennessee and Jarvis Varnadore Mississippi State.

Thompkins becomes Georgiašs first All-SEC first-team honoree since Jarvis Hayes in 2002 and 2003.

"Honestly, this wasn't something I was really thinking about going into the year," Thompkins said. "I try not to focus on things like that; my main focus is how we can win games."

Thompkins, a 6-10 forward from Lithonia, has led the Bulldogs in scoring and rebounding throughout the 2010 season. He completed the regular season averaging 17.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 30.9 minutes per game, shooting 48.6 percent from the field and 76.1 percent from the free-throw line. He has nine double-doubles thus far this season, scored his career high of 35 points against Florida Atlantic and was named SEC Player of the Week on Dec. 21. Thompkins ranks in the SEC's top five in scoring, overall rebounding, defensive rebounds and field-goal percentage.

Georgia travels Wednesday to Nashville where it will play Arkansas in the opening round of the SEC Tournament Thursday night at 9:45.

Thompkins credited his past summer of being on the U.S. under-19 World Championship team that won the world title in New Zealand.

"That helped a lot, but I also put in a lot of work in the weight room," Thompkins said. "But no, that experience was great. Those guys are playing for checks; they're not going to school. It definitely made us better as players."

So, what does Thompkins' future hold?

Some have queried whether not the sophomore would consider leaving Georgia early for the NBA. Tuesday, Thompkins sounded like a player with definite designs on coming back to Athens for another year.

"There's another level of strength that I have to reach. Those are grown men that are playing in the NBA. In this league, there's a certain amount of strength throughout the course of the spring if you want to be productive," he said. "I definitely have to focus on that."

NOTE: Fox was asked whether or not he would be in favor of his team playing in the third annual College Basketball Invitational, a third-tier post-season tourney for teams that do not make the field for the NCAA or NIT. "I think some people may have contacted the school, I'm not sure. I haven't had deep discussions with Damon (athletic director Damon Evans) about that yet and won't until we get to Nashville," Fox said. "I think if we play well in the tournament then the kids may deserve that chance. I might not base it all on my position, solely on how they play in the tournament, but that's something I'm sure Damon and I will have to discuss."

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