Adam Cheek, Staff Writer
Women’s Basketball forward Lauryn Thompson enters her second semester at VCU having played 11 of the squad’s 15 games and averaging 3.2 points per game.
Thompson hails from Arlington, Texas, where she led her Mansfield Timberview High School team to a 40-3 overall record as a senior and played in back-to-back state finals.
She quickly stepped into the rhythm of the Black and Gold upon arriving in Richmond, taking strides to ensure that she would be a part of the team during the 2018-19 season.
“I got to get closer [with the other players and it’s] easier since it was just me with all the girls that were returning,” Thompson said. “We started practicing together so I just flowed right into everything.”
The freshman forward said her high school play prepared her for the level of difficulty that collegiate basketball presented, helping her to quickly adjust to the regimens and requirements at VCU.
“Honestly I feel like in HS I was already practicing at a high level,” Thompson said. “So coming into college … I was already right there practicing hard. I’m used to pushing myself.”
Thompson entered the sports world at 7 years old, playing a number of sports before settling on basketball.
“Basketball was kind of my thing since I was bigger than most kids my age,” she said. “I started getting serious [about it] around seventh grade. It just kind of happened for me because of my size.”
Named a two-time All-District First Team selection prior to VCU, the forward also became the MVP of the all-star basketball game between Texas and Oklahoma, spearheading her team to two 14-15A district titles.
The Rams have won five straight games and are 11-5 on the season. Thompson has contributed to the team’s performance — she averages nine minutes per game, a 62.5 free throw percentage and 2.5 rebounds per game.
Thompson said having so many returning players on a team contributed toward having such a solid record early on.
“[There aren’t] that many newcomers, so people who are new are able to see easier,” she said. “We gelled quick, already went through the downtimes with each other. So now it’s easier and smooth.”
Thompson also said putting their trust in coach Beth O’Boyle and sticking to the game plan has helped the team put up significant amounts of points and win a solid number of games.
The team kicked off its season with victories over William & Mary and Longwood before falling to North Carolina, but Thompson called those losses “valuable.”
“[Losing] always encourages you to go hard and practice and play better in the game,” she said. “Being a freshman, I know it’s going to be a roller coaster ride in general, so I’m just bracing myself for ups and downs.”
Despite the typical highs and lows of the season, the forward stayed optimistic about her journey with the team.
“[I know] that I want to stay on the up every day,” Thompson said. “I’m just trying to stay focused on being better so I can keep my roller coaster going up.”
Thompson said her campus visit sealed the deal on her decision to come to VCU. Having received a number of offers out of high school, she narrowed down her options until VCU was in her final three.
“My visit won me over,” Thompson said. “I loved the program and the resources that we had here at VCU and in Richmond.”
Her early years in the suburbs of Texas provided a sharp contrast to the urban landscape of Richmond, but Thompson wanted to join a program where she could make her mark.
“I thought … I might as well go somewhere where there’s a new environment,” Thompson said. “[Somewhere] I can build a culture at a school and I wanted an opportunity [to do that] somewhere.”
Thompson said she was excited for last weekend’s matchup against Richmond.
“I’ve heard it’s like an in-town rivalry and everybody makes it out to be a big game,” the forward said. “I’m excited to experience it both home and away, and our entire team is as well.”
Thompson concluded with optimism about the season and team at hand.
“We’re working hard every day to build a better team,” she said. “…and [we’re working to build] a culture here at VCU so with our fans we’ll just be able to keep going strong.”
The team will next travel to face Fordham on Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m., and will then host Rhode Island on Sunday, Jan. 20 at 1 p.m.