By Robert Wilson
Mississippi College coach Randy Bolden wasn’t surprised when junior guard Tradavis Thompson went off for a career-high 47 points and set a school record with nine 3-pointers Sunday afternoon against Alabama-Huntsville.
After all, Bolden had signed Thompson twice, once when he was coaching at Jones County Junior College and then when Bolden got the head coaching job last season at MC.
Thompson, a smooth-shooting, 6-foot-2 left-hander from Raymond High, was in the zone and connected on 18 of 28 shots from the field, nine of 13 from 3-point range, to lead MC to a 92-62 victory over UAH at MC’s A.E. Wood Coliseum.
He was named the Gulf South Conference Player of the Week last week. Thompson also scored 22 points Friday night against West Alabama. He made 27 of 46 (58.6 percent) from the field, 10 of 17 (58.8 percent) from 3-point range, and 5 of 5 (100 percent) from the free throw line in the two games.
Thompson’s total was 10 short of the school single game points record of 57 set by Jehu Brabham in the 1970-71 season. It was the most points by an MC player while playing in the Gulf South Conference. MC has been a member of the GSC for 34 seasons, from 1972-1996 and from 2014-present.
Only seven players have scored more points in a game than Thompson in GSC history. Phil Shorter of Shorter holds the conference single game scoring record of 62 points during the 2016-2017 season. Luke Rudy of Christian Brothers holds the 3-point single game conference record with 14 in the 2018-19 season.
Thompson broke the school single game record for most 3-pointers by one. Jonathan McGee made eight twice in the 2015-2016 season and Justin Henley made eight once in 2001-2002 season.
Thompson leads the conference with 20.1 points per game and with 50.8 3-point percentage (eighth best in the country in Division II). He has made 31 of 61 3-pointers this season. Johnny Ransom holds the school record with 86 3-pointers in a season (1991-92) and Aaron Baker holds the school record with 59.0 3-point percentage (1988-89). If Thompson keeps his pace (2.82 3s per game), he will finish the regular season with 79 3-pointers entering the Gulf South Conference Tournament.
“Tradavis is a gym rat,” Bolden said. “He’s always in the gym, every day, shooting. Tradavis is a worker, and his performance Sunday is a reward for the work he has put in. When he was a freshman at Jones, I wouldn’t let him shoot 3-pointers. He wasn’t a 3-point shooter in high school. Tradavis wasn’t very good at them and now look at what he is doing, eighth in the nation. It’s a testament to the time he has put in the gym.”
Thompson almost didn’t play Sunday.
“Tradavis got back bruise in the game Friday and didn’t practice Saturday,” Bolden said. “I really wasn’t sure he was going to be able to play. He came to the shootaround Sunday morning, and his back started getting loose and he said, ‘Coach, I’m going to give it a go.’ “
A go is an understatement.
“I drew up a play for him at the first of the game to see if he could move and he came down and hit a 3,” Bolden said. “Then, he hit another one. And another one. I started calling his number. Tradavis was feeling it. We were getting him isolated so he could shoot. What he did doesn’t surprise me because I know how hard he works and how much time he puts into it.”
Bolden – who replaced long time MC coach and Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame member Mike Jones – knows about shooting. Bolden was an All-State player at Forest Hill High and two-time SWAC Player of the Year at Texas Southern.
Thompson started 14 games and averaged a team-high 14.5 points before suffering a season-ending knee injury last season at MC.
Thompson played for Bolden at Jones for two seasons. He averaged a team-high 15.8 points in 12 games as a sophomore in the shortened season due to covid in 2020-2021. He averaged 11.1 points and started 22 of 27 games as a freshman at Jones in 2019-20.
Thompson was a part of three state championship teams at Raymond and led the Rangers to a 29-5 record as a senior in 2018-2019.
“Tradavis was the first kid I met at Raymond,” Raymond coach Tony Tadlock said. “He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever coached. Tradavis is very coachable and that’s what separates him from everyone else. He wants to get better.”
MC, 7-4 overall and 4-4 in conference play, visits Shorter, 3-8 overall and 1-6 in conference play, Friday night in a conference game in Rome, Ga.
A win by the Choctaws Friday night would surpass their entire win total of last season. MC has made a remarkable turnaround in Bolden’s second season and Thompson is a major reason why.
Said Bolden: “Tradavis had some Division I offers, but he chose to come play with me at MC. I’m glad he did.”