DENHAM SPRINGS – If you’re a fan of the basketball career of Denham Springs forward Kate Thompson you better bundle up.
She’s headed north.
Thompson brought her recruiting process to an end Sunday, committing to the University of Wisconsin over nearby Southeastern Louisiana and Southern Mississippi.
“Since I was little it’s been a dream to go to the biggest school and play in front of all of these people,” Thompson said. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen that it’s not all about that. I just want to play and win. When I got this offer it kind of opened my eyes that you can do all of that stuff at the biggest schools.”
Nearly three weeks after receiving an official offer from Wisconsin during her home visit with head coach Jonathan Tsipis and assistant Craig Carter, Thompson plans to sign with the Big 10 Conference program during the NCAA’s early signing period Nov. 14-21.
In the two weeks since returning from her official visit the 6-foot-2 Thompson had to reconcile one deal-breaker: the distance between the campus in Madison and her hometown.
Although all signs pointed her toward Wisconsin during the official – the school’s picturesque campus, tremendous facilities to a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the Wisconsin-Michigan football game – Thompson decided not to commit at the time.
“It’s definitely scary being that far away,” she said. “Everything there was amazing, and I loved it, but I couldn’t picture myself being that far away.”
The more Thompson thought about it, the more she grew comfortable with the fact that she could happy 993 miles – or 14 ½ hours – away from home.
“We’ve been talking about it between Southeastern and Southern Miss,” Thompson said. “I was thinking about all of the good things and bad things and really the only bad thing about Wisconsin is how far away it is.
“Everything on my list in of a school was there minus it being far away,” Thompson said. “The more I thought about it and I prayed a lot about it, it’s something I’m going to have to do because it’s such an amazing opportunity. I couldn’t pass it up just because of the distance.”
Tsipis, now in his fourth season, guided Wisconsin to a 15-18 record and quarterfinals in the Big 10 tournament, the best mark for the program in seven years when the Badgers produced their last winning record (18-15).
Wisconsin is set to graduate two senior forwards after this season, opening the door for Thompson to possibly step into an immediate playing role that best takes advantage of her versatility.
“With the offense they don’t have set positions for each player,” she said. “I feel like I fit in well up there in their offense and can do whatever.
“It (official visit) was a lot of fun,” she said. “I got to know the team and the coaches, and I fit in really well with them. I’m excited to get to know them more. I liked the campus and the facilities and everything.”
During her career at Denham Springs, Thompson has shown the ability to play in the post with her back to the basket. She transitioned somewhat during last season’s run to the Class 5A state championship game, displaying her ball handling and face-up game as a shooter on the perimeter.
Thompson averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds, earning second team All-District 4-5A and All-Parish honors.
“It was exciting knowing that I was making the decision I’ve been thinking about for so long,” Thompson said of calling Tsipis with her commitment. “It was kind of a relief knowing that all of it was going to be over. It was also exciting.”