Eric Thompson (204-C-93, college: Pacific) is a 28 year old 204cm center from Detroit, Michigan that has been a professional for five seasons. He began his basketball career at Saddleback College (NJCAA) and then finished at the University of Pacific (NCAA). He began his professional career in 2016 with the ETB Wohnbau Baskets Essen (Germany-ProA). Since his rookie season he has been a double double monster in many countries with teams like Swiss Central Basket Luzern (Switzerland-SBL) averaging 15.9ppg, Reb-3 (11.0rpg), FGP-1 (65.2%), FT: 60.5% Hefei Yuanchuang (China-NBL) averaging 23.0ppg, Reb-1 (20.0rpg), 1.6apg, 1.2bpg, FGP-1 (69.6%), FT: 65.3%, Hiroshima Dragonflies (Japan-B2 League) averaging 11.8ppg, 10.3rpg, 1.6apg, 2FGP: 60.8%, FT: 56.4%,, Kagawa Five Arrows (Japan-B2 League) averaging 16.1ppg, 14.4rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 60.0%, FT: 57.1%. In the 2019-2020 season he played with Hapoel Eilat (Israel-Winner League) averaging 11.6ppg, Reb-5 (9.3rpg), 1.1apg, FGP: 52.5%, FT: 58.9%. This season he split time with Inchon ET Land Elephants (South Korea-KBL) averaging 7.9ppg, 7.8rpg, 1.1bpg, 2FGP: 52.5%, FT: 68.1% and Hapoel Altshuler Shaham Beer Sheva (Israel-Winner League) averaging 7.8ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.0spg, FGP: 52.1%, FT: 59.4%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career.
Eric thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?
Thank you for having me! At the moment I am playing professional in Israel. Basketball has been treating me great it’s been nothing but a blessing to play the game I love.
It’s been almost 5 years since we did our first interview. Has time flown by in those years?
Time has flown by but it’s been a great learning experience as always as time goes by the more knowledge learned and given.
Before we talk about basketball, I have to ask you about some other pressing issues. Your in Israel where at the moment there has been severe turmoil in Tel Aviv. How is your present state mentally?
Mentally it’s a tough situation but I’m just talking each day at a time while counting my blessings.
The city your living in Beer Sheva is 108 kilometers from Tel Aviv. Are you fearing for your life?
I won’t say fearing for my life but I am worried about what’s going to happen next because it is a difficult situation to be present in.
How are your Israeli teammates handling this situation? The drama in their country has been an ongoing problem for years. Do you sense having gotten closer to some guys because of everything happening in the country?
My Israeli teammates are great! Throughout my professional career I am fortunate to have be en blessed with great teammates better yet great individuals around me. As well I am always close with all my teammates I’m lucky enough to build great relationships.
There have been American players declaring to end the season in the Winner League. Are you also one of those guys that wants to get out of there as quickly as possible?
I’m a person when I start something no matter what I’ll always see it through to the end. Due to the certain circumstances I feel it’s not safe here at the moment and I would like to leave. However if season continues and it’s safe to finish I will finish out strong.
How have you experienced COVID in the last year? What was the biggest challenge for you on and off the court?
I am blessed and lucky to not received the virus. As for the experience it took a lot adjustments in my daily routine. It was hard but it gave me a different prospective on how to adjust to different situations.
With everything that you have seen in the last year with COVID, how do you feel did it make you stronger as a man?
With everything that happened the past year Covid thought me on how to think/adjust on the spot. Before Covid it was always a schedule, after Covid I am able to plan better as well manage my time better. Therefore to answer the question it made me a better person overall.
You began the season with Inchon ET Land Elephants (South Korea-KBL) averaging 7.9ppg, 7.8rpg, 1.1bpg, 2FGP: 52.5%, FT: 68.1%. You have played parts of three seasons in Asia. What have you learned to appreciate about playing there the most?
Asia has been nothing but great to me! It’s different and I love to learn different cultures. I was able to see and learn the culture, which is great to me.
Now your with Hapoel Altshuler Shaham Beer Sheva (Israel-Winner League) and the second time in the Winner League. Your playing against ex NBA players on a regular basis. Is this the best league you have balled in as a professional?
The Israel league is great! It’s a honor to be a part of this league. It’s a challenging league and it brings out the best of you
You recently beat Macabbi Tel Aviv and beat them last season. How much does it mean to you having beaten a top Euroleague team?
It’s always great to face-off against Macabbi because you know the game is going to be Top Tier! Games like that bring the best out of you and it’s a honor to be a part of them.
Last season you beat NBA guys like Tyler Dorsey, Quincy Acy, Othello Hunter and Deni Avidija. When you look at how your game has progressed over the years, do you feel like your skill level isn’t that far away from guys like that?
Playing against guys like them is a honor. I feel my game did improve more over the time but there’s always room to improve and get better.
What was it like being teammates with ex Georgetown (NCAA) big man Henery Sims. When there are only two Americans on a full of Koreans, did one get a closer bond?
Playing against/with Henry was great because I was able to learn and pick off his game. He’s a great guy and always competitive.
Last season you played with Hapoel Eilat (Israel-Winner League) playing 21 games averaging 11.6ppg, Reb-5 (9.3rpg), 1.1apg, FGP: 52.5%, FT: 58.9%. After playing in Japan, China and Switzerland, how do you feel did your game make another jump in your first Winner League season?
I believe my game made a jump because I became more aware of certain situations that happen over the course of the game/season.
In 2018-2019 you split time with Hefei Yuanchuang (China-NBL) averaging 23.0ppg, Reb-1 (20.0rpg), 1.6apg, 1.2bpg, FGP-1 (69.6%), FT: 65.3%, Hiroshima Dragonflies (Japan-B2 League) averaging 11.8ppg, 10.3rpg, 1.6apg, 2FGP: 60.8%, FT: 56.4%, and Kagawa Five Arrows (Japan-B2 League) averaging 16.1ppg, 14.4rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 60.0%, FT: 57.1%. Those stats for 3 different teams are insane. This must have been your best season. What was your secret to that crazy consistency?
That was my best professional season so far and the key to that season was confidence. Because I came into season with a chip on my shoulder for the third time in a row in my professional career. I was picked to become the last import player as well the less skilled player. Knowing that coming into the season I knew there was going to be G league and Ex NBA players playing in the league so therefore that was enough motivation to dominate!
In China you had games where you scrapped 34 and 33 rebounds off the glass in two games. Did it at times feel like your were a man playing with kids or was it difficult work?
I won’t say man against kids just that I knew where the ball was going to go after the shot was taken. Rebounding to me is all about heart and who wants the ball more.
How big do you rate your 20/20 stats for a season? That is an amazing feat. No player in the NBA has averaged 20 plus rebounds since 1969 and legend Dennis Rodman never averaged more than 18,7 in a season.
I honestly don’t know how to rate that season because I didn’t even know I avg 20rebs till after the season was over. I’m proud of myself for completing that mile stone but I still have more goals to reach and that’s to win a championship. Dennis is one of the guys I study for rebounding. He played with heart and he went after every ball with 100% energy and effort.
You played your second professional season with Swiss Central Basket Luzern (Switzerland-SBL) playing 23 games averaging 15.9ppg, Reb-3 (11.0rpg), FGP-1 (65.2%), FT: 60.5%. What memories do you have of this season? After a soldi season in Germany, you were able to raise your game to a new level. You got 20 rebounds for the first time as a professional in that season.
I had a great team around me and I had a great coaching staff that believed in me. Always gave out tough orders but out of tough love as Same for Germany!
What memories do you have of your rookie season in Germany with the ETB Wohnbau Baskets. It was your rookie season and you had top point guard Chris Alexander as your point guard. How much easier did he make your offensive game?
My rookie year was a complete learning year for me that’s when I developed understanding of how overseas basketball works. Chris helped me a little but most things I had to learn on my own because we played two different positions. He made my game a lot easy because during the games he would shoot the ball and say ‘easy money E I can take that shot and if I miss I know you would tip it back in’ that coming from a Veteran like Chris and saying that to a rookie installed confidence in me.
Your only 28. Don’t you feel like you deserve a chance to play Basketball Champions League or Eurocup? I’m sure that is a goal of yours and one you will be pursuing this summer
Oh yes that has always been a goal of mines but when that opportunity present itself it won’t be taken for granted because I know what I bring to the table and it’ll be honored.
Chris Paul recently passed Magic Johnson for fifth all-time in assists. Where do you rank him with the best point guards all-time despite never having won a ring?
This year he’s winning his first ring bank on it! As well he’s top 10 in my book but he still has more to go and years left to play
Where do you see the journey going with Jayson Tatum who recently scored 60 points? Is he a top 10 player in the NBA now?
Jayson is a special player and his ceiling and potentially is through the roof. As for being a top 10 player in the league now it’s a toss-up.
Dino Radja recently said he couldn’t see Russell Westbrook leading a team in Europe to success. Do you agree?
Oh yes seeing Russell play in person and seeing how he makes everyone around him better. He can most definitely lead a team to success in the Euroleague.
Draymond Green recently said he is the best defender of all-time. Do you agree?
Draymond is not the best defender of all time. He still needs to prove more on that side! Can’t forget about what Tony Allen and Gary Payton did during their time in the league!
Have you seen the Coming to America sequel? It has had mixed reviews. Shouldn’t they just have left it alone?
I haven’t seen coming to America sequel at all but if they think about making another movie they should leave it alone because the movie is already a classic.
Thanks Eric for the chat.