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NBA: Riderís Thompson taken in lottery

By Josh Dubow
Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. ó As a high school player, Jason Thompson was so lightly regarded that he ended up at Rider instead of a traditional basketball power.
After growing to 6-foot-11 and working on his game for four years of college, Thompson became an NBA lottery pick when the Sacramento Kings chose him with the 12th overall pick in the NBA draft Thursday night.
Thompson was the first college senior taken in the draft, going ahead of more heralded players such as Georgetown center Roy Hibbert, Kansas guard Brandon Rush and LSU forward Anthony Randolph.
Thompson said he started believing he could be a lottery pick when he started going against the players he watched on television during his numerous workouts before the draft.
iThat gives me a lot of motivation when I have to keep proving myself,î he said. iMaybe if I went to a bigger school or something I would not go as hard. I feel like I have to prove myself each workout. That gave me motivation on what I had to do.î
While the Kings picked a little-known player with their top pick, they got a household name in the second round when they selected Georgetown forward Patrick Ewing Jr. with the 43rd overall choice.
With the pick before Ewing, the Kings drafted Virginia point guard Sean Singletary.
Adding size was a priority for the Kings, who were second-to-last in the NBA in rebounding last season at 40.1 per game and often played without a legitimate power forward.
Thompson averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds a game in each of his last two years in college and shot up draft boards in the past few weeks. Thompson was home in New Jersey for the draft because he did not get an invitation to the draft in New York City.
Thompson averaged 20.4 points and 12.1 rebounds per game last year for Rider. He didnít play often against top competition in college, but he did score 24 points against Kansas State and Michael Beasley, the second overall pick in the draft.
Thompson said his performance in that tournament in Florida, where he outplayed Beasley and N.C. State forward J.J. Hickson, caught the eye of NBA teams.
iThey had seen my talent and the upside that I had, but they wanted to see what I could do against higher competition,î Thompson said. iI feel like Iím ready. I have a lot to learn but Iíll do whatever it takes.î
Thompson was just 5-11 when he started high school and grew to 6-6 by the end of his junior season. With little interest from big-time schools, Thompson committed to Rider before his senior season. After growing two more inches and winning a New Jersey state title as a senior, Thompson attracted more interest but stuck with his decision to be a ibig fish in a small pondî at Rider.
He kept growing at college, adding NBA power forward size to the outside skills he had developed as a guard. That versatility was one of the factors that attracted the Kings to Thompson, who became the clear pick when guards D.J. Augustin and Jerryd Bayless came off the board at ninth and 11th.
iI think Thompson had the best combination of skills for our team,î Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie said. iThere have been a lot of really terrific players who have come into the NBA from small schools, like Karl Malone, Dennis Rodman. He really is a multidimensional type player.î

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