The return of Race Thompson IU is about more than just wins. He wants to “show what the real Hoosier is.”

Precisely three and a half months in the past, Rhys Thompson stood in the course of Department McCracken. The group at Simon Skjodt Meeting Corridor fell into silence because the fifth-year striker raised a microphone towards his mouth. Tears welled up in his eyes. His voice crackled as he tried to utter phrases of gratitude.

Thompson did not know if it was the final time he wore an Indiana shirt, and on Senior Evening, he spoke as if that was the truth.

However after three and a half months, Thompson didn’t play in a European nation. Thompson is not making ready for the 2022 NBA draft. Thompson hasn’t moved into a brand new condo on a distinct campus.

As a substitute, the 6-foot-8 striker and All-Large Ten Honorable Point out is again in Bloomington, heading into summer season coaching and making ready for his sixth and last season with the Hoosiers. His determination to come back again wasn’t a dramatic, lengthy course of both. As soon as he turned assured and comfy together with his selection, he posted a easy one-minute video on social media with a easy four-letter caption: “Let’s Run It Again.”

For almost all of school basketball gamers, six years is a very long time spent at school, not to mention the college itself. Fortuitously for IU followers, Thompson would not seem like the vast majority of school basketball gamers, and his confidence in the one school he is ever recognized is what introduced him again for one last season.

“I wish to go away a legacy right here,” Thompson stated at a information convention on Thursday. “I feel I’ve made a mark. I hope to have the ability to choose two extra imprints subsequent yr.” “And I feel if I simply preserve taking part in the best way I can, and perhaps play a bit of bit higher, and enhance, as I do yearly, I feel that can actually present what an actual Hoosier is, and what all of that is about to be a Hoosier.”

Do not make it crooked, although. Thompson nonetheless appears to be like to the longer term and towards his goals of taking part in professionally, even when these goals do not come true as shortly as he thought.

However that is the place confidence comes into play. It is a symbiotic relationship between him and IU’s teaching workers – Thompson believes the workers might develop it additional; Workers imagine Thompson might help transfer this system ahead. If Thompson would not really feel comfy, transferring again to Indiana most likely will not be an possibility.

Apart from the teaching workers assembled by coach Mike Woodson, it is one of many locations the place Thompson stated he feels most comfy.

“Simply having that relationship that we have constructed over the past yr, I actually belief them. I imagine in them. They imagine in me,” Thompson stated. “They’re making an attempt to make me the most effective participant I can change into, and I imply, that is one of many principal causes I am coming again. I feel if I can enhance my sport the best way they assume I can, I can go the place I’ve dreamed of going all my life.”

Whereas coaching on the sector is clearly an necessary think about Thompson’s consolation, there are additionally the intangibles he realized alongside the best way.

How one can be a frontrunner. How one can create a profitable tradition. How one can lead a locker room stuffed with your teammates. It is all a part of Thompson’s maturity over time, and whilst he enters subsequent season because the undisputed Indiana captain, he nonetheless permits himself to study.

“It was a lot enjoyable being round (the coaches), coming to coach every single day and simply speaking to them, getting higher with them,” Thompson stated. “They push me to be a frontrunner, they train me and so they train me each single day.”

Reese Thompson pauses the feelings in his commencement day speech (Picture: James Cotchill)

Thompson will not need to journey alone within the cockpit of the proverbial IU ship. For a present that brings again greater than 90 % of its output and expertise from a season in the past, the often-independent Thompson will not need to drive alone. He may have six different high gamers to assist set this system’s parameters, together with returning star Tracee Jackson-Davis and first level guard Xavier Johnson.

“I feel it is nearly three of us being actual leaders and exhibiting them the way it’s finished, as a result of we have finished that and we’re making an attempt to be higher,” Thompson stated. “So if we will get these guys, all people else with us and so they actually purchase the entire program and Coach Woodson and all of our different coaches, I feel we will do one thing particular.”

It is a mindset and tradition that Thompson has tried and hopes to instill since changing into a management function.

Whereas the style of success and victory in Thompson’s first 4 seasons was usually speedy, showing in a single sport after which disappearing altogether, final season was totally different. Hoosiers lastly heard their title being referred to as on Choice Sunday for the primary time on the Thompson rally in Indiana. They overcame a long-running NCAA championship drought—since 2016—for one in every of school basketball’s most historic packages.

It was within the midst of IU’s Large Ten Event, which finally cracked the Hoosiers’ ticket to the NCAA Championship, that Thompson took a deep breath and allowed himself to study once more. about his colleagues. About camaraderie. about relationships.

Indiana has lastly discovered its recipe for achievement and rebirth, and Thompson wasn’t going to let these elements fall by the wayside this off season.

“If you do not have a relationship along with your teammates, you do not actually have something,” Thompson stated. “So I actually preserve attending to know them, and really feel extra comfy round them, and make them extra comfy round everybody, round me… Make them really feel at house and simply make them an enormous household right here.”

Though the sudden response to Thompson’s return was to instantly think about IU’s potential on the court docket along with her veteran large man again within the fold, ought to she take a step again, Thompson’s management is arguably an important asset to come back again.

Whereas, certain, you doubtless will not discover many higher “sticky guys” within the Large Ten or the nation than Thompson, you will be hard-pressed to seek out teammates on the lookout for a “glue man” like Indiana does for Thompson.

And even when the Indiana captain would not stroll out of the present with the convention or nationwide titles he may need been hoping for, the best way he leaves is the best way Thompson needs to be remembered most.

“Only a man who went out and gave his all each time he went and stomped on the court docket,” Thompson stated.