The Kings opted to add physicality to their frontcourt in Thursday's draft, taking Rider power forward Jason Thompson with the No. 12 pick.
The 6-foot-11, 250-pounder averaged 20.4 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in his senior season. He was seen by many as a late first-round pick, and certainly behind the likes of LSU's Anthony Randolph. But while the biggest question about the 6-foot-10, 18-year-old was in regards to his lean frame (197 pounds), Thompson has no such deficiency.
The 21-year-old who was the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference's Player of the Year could certainly help a Kings team that was 29th in the league in rebounding (40.1 per game). He is also lauded for his passing skills, making him only the latest good-passing big man to be taken by Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie. It marked the second straight season they've picked a center, as Thompson will join 7-footer Spencer Hawes after he was picked tenth overall last June out of Washington.
* Petrie put out a quick statement about Thompson, although the media won't speak with him directly until after the second round.
"He is a 6-11 power forward with some three skills who averages 20 points, 12 rebounds, three assists per game and is a tremendous all-around player for a big guy. What really impressed us was his ability to dribble the ball, pass the ball and run the floor with his size. We think again that he will be a multi-dimensional type player for us. It gives us another young big to go along with Spencer (Hawes), as we try to move along further to try to improve the team."
* For a good read on the newest King, click here.
* Who said Rider isn't big-time? Thompson has his own web site - Jasonthompson1.com.
* Nice Reggie Theus plug from the one and only Dick Vitale on the ESPN broadcast.
"Get a contract extension baby," he yelled after breaking down Thompson 's skills.
The Kings coach, to review, has one guaranteed season left on his contract and a team option for the 2009-10 campaign that he'll have to earn.
As for Thompson, Vitale hollered, "Potential, potential, potential baby!"
* We just spoke to Thompson on a conference call, and I'll provide some of that in a bit. But the more entertaining conversation with Thompson was the one that happened when he called back.
After speaking with a Kings rep about which jersey number he would wear, Thompson - who wore No. 1 in college - kept swinging and missing with every pick. No. 1 is retired in honor of Nate Archibald, and there were probably four "nopes" after that. So for the moment, he settled on No. 34, which would be his press conference number but could certainly be changed later.
Then minutes later, Thompson called back with another pick - "Is this the Kings?" he said when I answered the media room phone.
"Yeah, is this Jason?" I answered.
"Yeah, it is," he continued. "I wanted to know - is (No.) 15 gone?"
Since I knew the answer, I figured I'd settle the matter rather than go looking for the Kings PR man Darrin May.
"Yeah, that's John Salmons' number," I said.
"Oh, okay," he said. "Thanks."
* I spoke with Theus a bit ago about Thompson, and he offered some good insight. In its entirety...
"He did a great job in the workouts. We saw him work out three times, one in Oakland and two times in our building (in Sacramento). From a skill level, he does a lot of the things that we need.
He averaged around 12 rebounds a game in college, which means as much as anything that he has a nose for the ball. He has great hands and goes and gets the rebounds if they're out of his general area. We always talk about being able to score around the basket. He has the ability to score around the basket.
The fact that he grew slowly (from 5-foot-11 when he started high school, 6-6 as a junior playing center and 6-8 when he left Lenape high school in Mt. Laurel, N.J.), he handles the ball for a big guy extremely well which means that after he can rebound the ball he can also become a ballhandler on the break.
He runs the floor really well, and just gives us some size and athleticism around the basket, which we really need. The biggest factor is that he really showed those skills for us when we worked him out.
We're always talking about next year and someone who can come in and help us. He also was one of the few guys in the draft we thought was NBA-ready. Obviously he's going to get better. Defensively, he has to get better. That was the biggest thing that I saw and we saw as a staff in the workouts is that he just didn't have a clear grasp of the defense around the basket. Obviously we feel that his footwork and his athleticism will allow him to do that with some work, but he has to get better in that area. Just real happy. He was the big we were looking for.
He's got potential. He's got quickness, he's got strength and he's got size, and he doesn't mind mixing it up. He was an offensive-minded guy in school, played in a place where he probably could get away with cheating on defense because of his size and the conference that he played in. He never was really challenged in that way."
* Thompson's 12.1 rebounds per game as a senior was second in the nation.
* Thompson spent some time with Chris Webber when he came out to Sacramento for workouts, and even dined at his restaurant. C-Webb, Thompson said, even provided a few gift cards for his Center Court in Natomas. Maybe that was the deal-maker...
* I'll keep adding to this post, so keep checking back for more info. - Sam Amick