Florida Southern College's John Thompson is doing more with less this season.
Thompson, a former standout at White Knoll High, stayed in Lakeland, Fla., during the summer to shed 20 pounds. So far, through eight games, the 6-foot-5, 215-pound senior forward tops the third-ranked Moccasins with 16.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.
"I worked with one of the assistant coaches down here in the offseason," said Thompson, who was named the NCAA Division II Sunshine State Conference Player of the Week after his 19-point, 12-rebound preformance in an 83-77 victory against Barry on Dec. 5. "I feel much better and stronger. It has helped me out a lot as far as getting up and down the court and my endurance."
"He really worked hard this offseason to get himself into shape to play this year," Florida Southern coach Linc Darner said. "He came in and spent a lot of time in the gym before the season started. I think it has really shown in his game."
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Thompson has recorded three double-doubles this season despite averaging 24 minutes per game. The 8-0 Moccasins have outscored their opponents by an average of 23 points per contest, allowing Thompson and the other Florida Southern starters plenty of time to watch from the bench and stay fresh for conference play.
"I'm sure at the end of the year, he'll be up there among the top rebounders in the country," Darner said. "Once we get into conference, those numbers should go up."
"The games will get tougher when we start conference play, so I will get more minutes," said Thompson, who averaged 11.9 points and 8.8 rebounds last season on the way to earning All-Sunshine State Conference second-team honors. "One of my goals this year is to average a double-double."
Another goal for Thompson is to help lead the Moccasins to an NCAA Division II national title. Last season, Florida Southern made it as far as the South Regional Championship.
"We want to get deep into the tournament and make it to the Elite Eight," Thompson said. "I want to be the guy the team can depend on night-in and night-out. I want to do whatever I can for us to win."
Thompson, who transferred to Florida Southern after two years at Charlotte's Queens University, hopes his basketball career doesn't end after this season. His offseason endurance program was designed to help his chances of playing at the next level.
"I think he has a good chance to do that, whether it be overseas or anywhere else," Darner said. "He can score the ball and rebound. A lot depends on how we do here. The farther we go, the more people will see him play."
Thompson is taking one season at a time.
"I'm pretty happy with the way I'm playing," he said. "I was really excited about this season. Now that things are going good, it makes everything even better. If the door to play pro opens up, I'll go that path. For now, I just want to help this team get as far as it can."
HIGH SCHOOL: Two-time Class 4A all-state selection at White Knoll. ... Region 2 Player of the Year and three-time all-region choice.
COLLEGE: Started 20 games as a freshman and averaged 12.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game at Queens (N.C.) University. ... Had 25 rebounds for Queens in a victory against Pfeiffer during his sophomore season. ... Second-team All-Conference Carolinas selection as a sophomore. ... Topped Florida Southern with 8.8 rebounds per game last season. ... Second-team All-Sunshine State Conference choice and named to NCAA Division II All-South Region Tournament team.
PERSONAL: Born Aug. 28, 1986. ... Son of Lisa Dickerson. ... Majoring in communications and advertising.