Days before the season started, Mikey Thompson thought back to last year. His teammates immediately came to mind.
“I owe them,” he said.
Thompson believed he hadn’t been reliable enough on and off the floor, struggling mightily the second half of his junior campaign.
Through 20 games as a senior, he has been as consistent as anyone on the roster, scoring at least 12 points in all but one Mountain West contest.
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“Be committed, and never be satisfied ... a lot of these guys are helping me get better every single day,” Thompson said. “It’s more mental than anything, just having to be focused.”
The fifth-year guard’s 11.5 points per game are 2.9 better than any previous season, his 47.7 percent field goal shooting is 11.4 percent better than 2014-15, and his 83 assists are already a career high.
“He takes the right shots at the right time,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “His shot selection’s been almost impeccable. He gets everybody involved; he plays for all the right reasons.”
Just 12 points shy of 1,000 for his career (he would be the 26th Bronco to reach that plateau), Thompson also leads the Mountain West with a 2.1:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He credits former Bronco great Derrick Marks’ improvement between his junior and senior years as inspiration to improve himself.
“He’s one of the most unselfish kids I’ve ever coached,” Rice said. “There’s a value to having a guy that’s been in your program for five years, and we’re reaping the dividends.”
Wednesday’s game at UNLV will be a homecoming for Thompson, who won a state championship his senior year at Canyon Springs High in Las Vegas. His father, Freddie, was an assistant coach.
Before Wednesday’s game, Freddie will be honored by UNLV, where he played in the late 1970s. He passed away April 2, 2015, from pancreatic cancer.
“It’s going to be very emotional, just to honor my dad. That’s a tremendous thing to look forward to and I’m just happy to be a part of it,” Thompson said.
Thompson said that even though his dad played for legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian with the Rebels, he always sported Boise State gear when the Broncos were in town. Rice noted that 17 members of the Thompson family came to Boise to see Mikey graduate in December, and that many, perhaps more, will be watching from behind the Broncos’ bench Wednesday.
“We’re going to have lots of Mikey Thompson fans down there,” Rice said.
Even though Thompson’s biggest fan, who his son said “was there when I needed anything, was like my best friend,” won’t be there to see it, he would be proud to see the growth that has taken place.
“I know he’s seeing it,’’ Thompson said. “He’s looking after me every single day.’’
Boise State men at UNLV
- When: 9 p.m. Wednesday
- Where: Thomas & Mack Center (18,776), Las Vegas
- TV: CBS Sports Network
- Radio: 670 AM
- Records: Boise State 15-5, 6-1 Mountain West; UNLV 12-8, 3-4
Boise State women host UNLV
- When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
- Where: Taco Bell Arena
- Radio: 1350 KTIK AM
- Records: Boise State 12-6, 5-2 MW; UNLV 11-7, 4-3
- Tickets: $6 (adults), $4 (seniors/youth)
- Notes: Boise State has won four straight and is alone in third place in the Mountain West. ... UNLV has been stout defensively, holding opponents to 36.1 percent shooting (second in the MW), but is eighth or worse in scoring offense (62 percent) and shooting percentage (35.2 percent). ... Sophomore guard Dakota Gonzalez (Highland High) leads the Rebels with 12.9 ppg. ... Boise State is first or second in the MW in scoring, shooting percentage, 3-point percentage and free-throw percentage.