Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
St. Benedict’s Prep will be without its best player going forward after head coach Dan Hurley kicked 6-foot-8 Texas-bound junior Tristan Thompson off the team permanently Tuesday.
“He was kicked off the team for public insubordination,” Hurley said Wednesday by phone.
Thompson, a native of Brampton, Ontario, is the No. 2-ranked power forward and No. 5 overall player in the Class of 2010, according to Rivals.com. He is averaging 19.1 points and 9.6 rebounds.
Asked if Thompson would leave the school, Hurley said: “That’ s not my concern. That’s the concern of his family and that’s the concern of the headmaster. I just know that I’m not going to be his coach and that’s about it.”
“That’s the state of basketball,” Hurley added. “The kid came here as an unknown kid with potential and as an intelligent kid who is very likable. The problem in our sport now is that as kids get better and as their ranking rises, the people around these kids ruin them.”
Hurley and Thompson apparently had an incident during Tuesday’s game against Passaic Tech at St. Benedict’s, won by the Gray Bees.
“When you’re told to do something on the court, there’s an expectation that you will accept the coaching,” Hurley said. “He did not a take a swing at a coach or at a player, but when you’re told to do something on the court for our team, you take the coaching and you do it. You don’t have a response.”
The Gray Bees started the year 19-0 before losing back-to-back games to St. Patrick and Mater Dei. Now ranked No. 8 in the RivalsHigh 100 and the USA Today Super 25, their next game is Saturday at 4:30 against Mountain State (West Va.) Academy in the Primetime Shootout in Trenton.
Thompson committed to Texas last year, and his St. Ben’s teammate and fellow Canadian Myck Kabongo recently followed suit. If Thompson leaves the school, it is possible Kabongo would follow him, although that remains unclear at this point.
Ro Russell, Thompson’s AAU coach with Grassroots Canada, previously said Thompson could be the “best player ever to come out of Canada.” He said Thompson would remain at St. Benedict’s through the end of the school year and would then examine his options.
“It’s an unfortunate situation that occurred with regards to Tristan no longer being on the St. Benedict’s basketball team, but he is still a student at St. Benedict’s and will be finishing his academic requirements there,” Russell said. “He has nothing but respect and gratitude for Coach Danny Hurley and his athletic staff and coaches. Tristan also maintains a strong relationship with the school master Father Ed [Leahy] as well as the school faculty.
“Tristan and Coach Hurley have had an up-and-down relationship during his time at St. Benedict’s, but has always worked hard, competed, and tried his best to represent the program in the highest regard. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t see eye-to-eye and that led to the incident at his game [Tuesday] evening. Tristan’s intention were to finish his high school career at St. Benedict’s but unfortunately that probably won’t happen after this high school year.
“Tristan, his family, and myself will sit down in the near future and figure out his next course of action.
“In general, Tristan is fine, he’s doing very well in school, is still very much committed to the University of Texas and he has options for next year.
“One of Tristan’s possible options could be another high profile private school in the U.S that I’m involved with.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.