Thompson steps up |

Thompson steps up

Eileen JoyceKelib Thompson, a senior at Nevada Union High School, drives in the paint during a recent game. Thompson provides the Miners with an inside force.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Kelib Thompson wants to do some serious traveling someday.

An owner of both an American and Canadian passport, Thompson is working on getting one from France as well, courtesy of his mother, Veronique Samson, who was born there.

One might think traveling and basketball are words that don’t favorably go together, but Thompson has already proven that not entirely true.

Last summer, the 6-foot-5 senior traveled to Southern California to take part in back-to-back invitational tournaments that helped mold him into the player he is.

And the player he will be.

Nevada Union basketball coach Jeff Dellis, who helped make the trip to Southern California possible, said Thompson’s best basketball is ahead of him.

“We have perimeter players, but we need someone like Sacramento’s David Young or Kennedy’s Anthony Brown, someone who lives in the paint,” Dellis said. “(Thompson) is our guy for that role, and he is getting better and better.”

Thompson is still recovering from an ankle sprain that sidelined him for 10 days following a holiday tournament in San Leandro. The injury came two weeks after some of Thompson’s best basketball, in the Armijo Tournament, which the Miners won. It is play that Dellis believes has been supplanted by Thompson’s performance last week.

Against Kennedy, Thompson had 12 points, and then turned around the next night and scored a team-high 15 in a Metro League win against Hiram Johnson.

Thompson is averaging better than 12 points and eight rebounds per game, according to Dellis. His scoring is second to Tony Parilo and he is running neck-and-neck with Parilo for tops on the team in rebounds.

Dellis’ suggestion that Thompson participate in summer tournaments in addition to local basketball camp has showed dividends.

“I think Kelib’s best basketball is ahead of him,” Dellis said. “As fundamentally sound as he is, because of his lack of game experience at the high school level, he is still learning to make game decisions. He is getting better and better, and by the end of the season, I think we’ll have two guys who are legitimate inside-outside threats. If we get there, we’ll be tough to beat in the playoffs.”

Thompson played at two prep invitational basketball camps in July, one in San Diego, the other near Los Angeles in Dominguez Hills. The tournaments were eye-openers for Thompson.

“They based it a lot like if you went to college,” Thompson said. “They put a class time in; they explained about recruiting, and gave us SAT prep tests.”

And then they played. Thompson had a chance to fine tune his skills against some of the best players in the western part of the United States. He said it was humbling, in a way, playing against those who clearly are destined for Division I college basketball.

“Sometimes, it was kind of intense,” Thompson said. “Both camps were good, but the (Dominguez Hills) camp had more D-I players, and the coaches were really enthusiastic and upbeat.”

Thompson was joined at that camp by Parilo, who also hopes to play college basketball next year.

“I have other interests, but basketball is what I like the most,” Thompson said. “I set that as a high priority. I’m here (in the gym) every chance I get.”

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