Canada's Thompson relaxed ahead of NBA draft
A day before he will walk across the stage at the NBA draft, Tristan Thompson was relaxed.
Anyone who may have wondered whether the Brampton, Ont., native was ready for the attention that comes along with playing professional basketball had their doubts silenced as Thompson held court Wednesday.
Declaring for the draft after his freshman season at the University of Texas, Thompson has impressed in his pre-draft workout sessions both on and off the court.
Now he has a chance to become the highest Canadian pick of basketball's modern era.
Fielding question after question on the potential of being a piece of Canadian basketball history, Thompson was a willing ambassador for his country.
"It's definitely exciting being from Canada," he said. "Everyone says [I could be] the highest Canadian pick ever. It means a lot and it just shows how much growth there's been in Canadian basketball. I'm excited and I just can't wait for it to happen."
While Bob Houbregs of Vancouver was selected second overall by the Milwaukee Hawks in 1953, Victoria's Steve Nash's selection at 15th overall in 1996 has been the number to beat in the modern era of professional basketball.
While the path from Toronto to Texas was paved with hard work, Thompson also has a charisma that reels in everyone around him.
He credited his mother for his colourful personality. "You've got to blame Andrea Thompson, my mother for that. She's just outgoing and a very lively person so I'm just outgoing and being myself and getting to know people," Thompson said.
When asked how he'd feel about ending up in different cities, Thompson was coy about the colour of his draft-day suit. "Let's just say that my colours will go with any team in this draft."
Despite rumours swirling that he cancelled remaining workouts after a session with the Detroit Pistons prior to coming to New York to go through the draft week media circuit, Thompson's destination remains wide open.
Where Cory Joseph ends up is even less certain. Thompson had only supportive things to say of his teammate, roommate and fellow Canadian. The point guard from Pickering, Ont., raised eyebrows when he made the decision to declare early.
"A lot of people questioned Cory entering the draft," said Thompson, "but I told him, 'Cory, a pro knows when he's a pro. If you think you're a pro, go ahead and enter the draft. At the end of the day it's your career and you shouldn't let anybody influence you."'
That kind of level-headed thinking is what helped Thompson when he made the decision to leave his Texas teammates for basketball's biggest stage.
"Leaving Texas, it was hard," Thompson said. "Leaving a place you really like and having a good support staff there, but at the same time I had to do what's best for me and I think I made the best decision."
The way things are looking a day before the draft, it's difficult to argue with him. The 20-year-old couldn't wipe the smile off of his face while reminiscing over his childhood dream of making it to the NBA.
"A couple of years ago we were high-school kids, dreaming about going to college and now we're dreaming about playing in the NBA," Thompson said. "It goes by so fast."
Thompson has also helped to bring Joseph out of his shell.
"It's a gift and a curse," Thompson said of his loud personality. "When you hang out with me a lot, you start to open up and start living your life. I've helped Cory a lot and he's helped me control my, I guess, craziness."