Thursday July 2nd, 2009

The latest subject in's Hoops Q&A series is Washington State guard Klay Thompson, who's currently playing for USA Basketball in the FIBA U19 World Championship in New Zealand. As a freshman, he averaged 12.5 points and 4.2 rebounds for a team that finished 16-14. He's the son of former No. 1 draft pick Mychal Thompson, who played in the NBA for the Blazers and Lakers. I spoke with Klay in Colorado Springs before he left for New Zealand. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Luke Winn: You're regarded as one of the better shooters in college hoops, and you've said that you liked how coach [Tony] Bennett, (who left for Virginia this offseason), used you off of screens in his offense. What has [new] coach [Ken] Bone said about how he'll use you?

Klay Thompson: Coach Bone said he's going to incorporate some of the blocker-and-mover schemes that the Bennett family invented, and he also has floor spacing in his offense. He loves open, transition threes. And if you're a good shooter, which I'd like to think I am, and can hit some threes, you'll be able to play well that way if you're able to go up and down. I like the idea of having more floor spacing in coach Bone's offense.

LW: How do you describe Bone's offense? I saw it when Portland State was in the NCAAs in 2008, and know he let his best shooter there [Jeremiah Dominguez] take almost 200 threes that season.

KT: It's hard to describe it, but I would say it's fast-paced, or high- tempo. He wants you to take good quality shots, but it's OK if they're early in the shot clock.

LW: What was your emotional reaction when you found out coach Bennett was leaving for Virginia?

KT: He brought us into the locker room and told us he was taking the job, and I was shocked, and a little disappointed at the time. But I guess he bettered his situation, and did what was right.

LW: I kind of got the impression that, once he turned down the Indiana job, he might be staying in Pullman for a little while.

KT: So did all of us, but I guess not. You just have to adjust. I had one conversation with him, but didn't really talk to him about why he left. He just talked about my future and how he really enjoyed coaching me -- that was it.

LW: If you had the chance to pick up one player from the U.S. U19 trials [in Colorado Springs] and add him to the Washington State roster, who would it be, and why?

KT: I'd probably take one of the bigs who could shoot, maybe Gordon Hayward [from Butler]. He's big, he can defend the four and play on the perimeter, so that allows for floor spacing, and he's a good guy to drive and kick to. He'd shoot well, especially in coach Bone's offense.

LW: Which college player did you respect most as a shooter from last season?

KT: Last year it was probably Stephen Curry, because no matter how many he missed, he was going to keep shooting. That's what he needed to do for his team to win. He's one of the best shooters in the country, and he'd keep proving it. We're playing with his brother [Seth Curry, who recently transferred from Liberty to Duke], and he can shoot, too.

LW: If you were asked to teach someone how to shoot, from scratch, what would the most important thing you'd emphasize?

KT: Probably having the shape of an "L" in your shooting form -- that's something I luckily developed naturally as a kid. And using your legs as part of the shot -- that's the key, I think.

LW: Who's the best one-on-one defender you faced last season?

KT: Jrue Holiday, from UCLA. I think he had the quickest hands of any kid I played against. He was a real good defender; he had great lateral movement and could stay in front of almost anybody. (Ed note: This is interesting, given that in May, Holiday voiced somewhat of a dislike for UCLA's defensive obsession, telling the L.A. Times, "In college, it's all about defense. [The NBA] seems like it's more fun. You can be you.")

LW: Your dad is currently a radio guy for the Lakers. Has this allowed you to have any interaction with current Lakers players?

KT: Well, I got to go to the Kobe Bryant Skills Academy [in 2007], which was a lot of fun. He was there, and there were about 20 kids, and we just worked out with his advice.

LW: Did you get any specific advice from Kobe?

KT: I'm not even sure what he said. I just remember coming away feeling better about my game.

LW: You grew up in L.A., and your dad has been quoted before as saying he couldn't understand why Tim Floyd wouldn't recruit you at USC. Was that where you actually wanted to go?

KT: It would have been cool to go to USC or UCLA at the time, but they already had guys recruited at my position, so it was difficult to get an offer from either of the two. I understood the situation.

LW: In retrospect, given what just went down with Tim Floyd [Floyd resigned after allegations he gave cash to an associate of O.J. Mayo], it's probably better that you didn't get an offer from USC.

KT: I'm very thankful I'm at Washington State.

LW: And you love it there? I read where you said the scenery was beautiful.

KT: That's a little overblown. I liked the basketball situation.

LW: I've also been told that your father is obsessively early for things. Has that trait rubbed off on you?

KT: I try to be early, but I'm not as obsessed as him, trying to be at least 45 minutes early to pretty much everything. In high school, if I had a game at 7, he might just go straight to the gym from work, even if he got off at 4, and he'd be an hour and a half early. He'd just sit in the car and listen to the radio.

LW: Given that you've been around at lot of NBA games, what's one NBA rule you'd implement into the college game if you could?

KT: I'd paint the inner circle in the key, because I think too many charges are being taken right below the basket. That's just hurting the game.

LW: What's your opinion on the NBA's age-limit rule, and the one-and- done effect on college hoops?

KT: I'd just say, go [pro] whenever you want, because it makes no sense to force kids to go to just one year of college. I don't get that. If a kid is already planning on being one-and-done, then he's going to school for the wrong reasons. He's going to go for one semester, and then he's gone.

LW: Your younger brother [Trayce] might be playing baseball at UCLA next year; do you like baseball's system -- either turn pro or play for at least three years in college -- better?

KT: Trayce just got drafted -- in the second round by the White Sox -- and I think he's leaning towards signing [a pro contract]. I like the baseball system better than basketball's. I don't see why you have to go to college for one year, when kids are playing pro ball in Europe at 14 years old.

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