Final Grades: Breaking Down Race Thompson's 2020-21 Season at Indiana

Redshirt junior forward Race Thompson started all 27 games for Indiana this season, and impressed many with his toughness late in the season while playing through a troubling injury to his face.

This is the third story of a 10-part series reviewing Indiana player performances during the 2020-21 season.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Even a hard smash to the face couldn't keep Race Thompson out of Indiana's lineup this season. He started all 27 games for the Hoosiers, and showed up every night. That alone is a big plus, even with a protective mask on.

The 6-foot-8 redshirt junior from Plymouth, Minn. worked his way into the starting lineup this season, and contributed in a big way. With Indiana playing shorthanded up front all season, a lot was expected of Thompson, and most nights he delivered.

Here's a breakdown of his season, what I liked and didn't like, his best game and future prospects and – of course – his final grade.

There's also a terrific video chat with Hilltop30 Scholarship Fund winner Haley Jordan, so check that out as well:

Race Thompson by the numbers

  • Games played: 27 of 27
  • Games started: 27 of 27
  • Average minutes: 28.2 (fourth on team)
  • Points per game: 9.1 (fourth on team)
  • Rebounds per game: 6.2 (second on team)
  • Assists per game: 1.37 
  • Steals per game: 1.04 
  • Blocks per game: 1.26 
  • Field goal percentage: 51.5 (87-for-169)
  • 3-point percentage: 20.0 (3-for-15)
  • Free throw percentage: 61.4 (70-for-114)

What I liked

A lot of the good things we saw from Race Thompson this season actually started to emerge a year earlier, when his excellent rebounding and interior defense earned him more playing time. And it was there most of this season as the starting power forward on this 12-15 team in 2020-21. 

He made a solid 1-2 punch inside all season along with Trayce Jackson-Davis, and a lot was expected of them because their backups, most notably Jerome Hunter and Jordan Geronimo, were clearly playing out of position when the starters needed a rest or were in foul trouble. So the pressure was on for Thompson do deliver. 

What I liked the most was that he continued to deliver down the stretch, even after taking an elbow to the face prior to the Feb. 24 game at Rutgers. There was some question if he'd be able to play, but there he was, mask and all, fighting his way through it in a physical game. Even though the Hoosiers lost, he played 21 minutes and grabbed nine rebounds.

He took another shot to the face at Michigan State, but played through that, too. Even after another medical procedure, he never missed a game. That's being a warrior.

What I didn't like

Because Thompson wasn't the focal point of the offense, there were games where he got lost in the shuffle and sort of disappeared. There were times where you wish he was more forceful in doing more on the offensive end.

There were seven games this season where he scored four points or less, and that was with averaging 24 minutes of playing time in those games. Does it matter? Sure it does, considering Indiana went 1-6 in those games, with the only win at Iowa. A little more would have helped.

I also would have liked a better performance from the free throw line, where he shot just 61.4 percent. That's a common complaint with this team, but Thompson actually got worse from 2020, where he shot 66 percent. Anything under 70 percent should be considered unacceptable for him.

Best game

Thompson had three double-doubles this season, but the one that stood out as his best game came early in the year against Providence. It was the first game of the Maui Invitational back on Nov. 30 in Asheville, N.C., and Trayce Jackson-Davis was getting double-teamed constantly. The Friars were daring Thompson to beat them inside, and he did just that in the 79-58 win.

Thompson finished the game with 22 points and 13 rebounds, which were both season highs. It set the tone that he couldn't be ignored by defenses. He scored in double figures 12 times during the season.

Future prospects

Thompson played with his back to the basket most of the time this season, and new Indiana coach Mike Woodson is already on record that he wants Thompson to expand his game out to the perimeter. He was just 3-for-15 from three-point range, but Woodson sees ability there, and in his offense, that power forward spot might see more time away from the basket.

Can Thompson handle that? Well, that's going to be interesting to see. He's not a knock-down shooter, at least not yet. But he's very athletic and no one works harder. He was a decent three-point shooter in high school, so it can happen. He may also still see some time at center against smaller teams.

Final Grade: B

B: Giving Race a B grade came after much internal debate between my ears. I was going back and forth between a B and a B-minus, and the B eventually won out because I really appreciated the fact that he showed up every night even when he was hurting. Atfer busting up his nose at the end of a lost season, he could have easily sat it out, but that's just not the way he's wired.

So B it is. He's done a lot, on and off the court, this year and he's a great spokesman for this program. He entered the transfer portal but decided to stay, and I'm glad he did.

Previous 'Final Grades' stories

  • TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS: Sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis was Indiana's leading scorer and rebounder this year, and there was no question he was the Hoosiers' best player. Here's his grade. CLICK HERE
  • ARMAAN FRANKLIN: Sophomore guard Armaan Franklin made great year-over-year strides and emerged as Indiana's best perimeter threat on both sides of the floor. CLICK HERE
  • RACE THOMPSON: Redshirt junior Race Thompson fought through injuries at the end of the season and battled in the post all year during his fine season. CLICK HERE
  • AL DURHAM: Senior guard Al Durham was up and down, but he conclude his career as one of 53 Hoosiers to score 1,000 points all-time. CLICK HERE
  • NEXT UP: Indiana junior guard Rob Phinisee.
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