Courtney Thompson is no stranger to the spotlight.
The 5’9” guard from Saint John, NB has been a starter every year since joining the Tigers in 2010. She was named to the AUS all-rookie team back in 2011, and was named an AUS second team all-star this year as she finished third in the AUS with 17.0 points per game and third in assists with 3.6 assists per game.
She wasted no time making a name for herself leading the Tigers in scoring her rookie season, while leading the team in minutes played.
Thompson provided an outside scoring punch for the Tigers, and used her shooting stroke to stretch the defense as she dished it inside.
On the line
But it wasn’t just her shooting stroke that turned heads this season, and it wasn’t her passing ability. It was her ability, with everyone in the crowd with their eyes fixated on her, to hit free throws.
Thompson wasn’t just good this season. She was unbelievable from the line. She shot an astounding 94.2% (81-86) this season, missing only five shots all season long from the charity stripe. (Heading into this season, Thompson shot an already respectable 78.8% from the line.)
How great is this number? She led the AUS and CIS in free throw percentage this year. Lethbridge University’s Ali Cameron, who was second with 92.9%, made less than half the free throws that Thompson did.
Her 94.2% is the best in the AUS since data has been available (since 2006). Let’s compare that to some records from around the basketball world:
· Steve Nash’s best percentage of his career - 93.8% (Phoenix Suns, 2009-2010)
· CIS Men’s leader Thomas Scrubb - 91.7% (Carleton Ravens, 2013-2014)
· Tigers men’s leader Derek Norris - 79.2% (Dalhousie Tigers, 2013-2014)
It would also rank as the tenth best NBA regular season percentage of all time, ahead of greats like Larry Bird, LeBron James and Michael Jordan.
“I believe my mental preparation has a lot to do with my success,” says Thompson. “No matter what the situation is in the game or practice, I always follow the same routine and shoot the same shot.”
Commitment to success
Coach Anna Stammberger couldn’t say enough about her fourth-year guard.
“Courtney is a court general, playmaker, a scorer and a competitor every time she steps on the hardwood,” adds Stammberger. “She never gets rattled and no matter how tough things get she just keeps competing.”
Thompson’s shooting was something the Tigers could count on all year, as they struggled with consistency and focus playing their way to a 10-10 record. Being a true team player, Thompson didn’t even realize how hot she’d been from the line until late in the season, when family and friends started to realize the historic season that she’d been having.
Her impact wasn’t just on the court, as she helped keep the Tigers focused when things got tough.
“Courtney is a great example of mental toughness. She brings leadership because she has great knowledge of the game,” says teammate Tessa Stammberger. “She also brings leadership because she is sometimes demanding when it is necessary, but she is also understanding when it is needed.”
The young Tigers squad sported seven rookies this year, and will look to build on this season’s experience as they work to move up in the standings next year.
“The number one thing is her knowledge of the game and perspective on everything as being our starting point guard,” adds Robbi Daley. “Her confidence and toughness are an asset as well and helps the younger girls as she is a great leader on the floor and they look up to her.”
As for Thompson, she knows that to be successful when the AUS regular season begins next November, the work begins now.
“I’m going to be hitting the weight room and I’ll be on the court, continuing to work on my game,” explains Thompson. “I’ll keep taking countless amounts of foul shots to keep my consistency high, while I work on other aspects of my game.”
Thompson will be one of many veteran returning Tigers including Tessa Stammberger, Robbi Daley, Ainsley MacIntyre and Rebecca Nuttall that will try and come out on top of the AUS which will no longer be dominated by Justine Colley and the powerhouse Saint Mary’s Huskies.
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