Picture Credit: Gregory Payan/Associated Press
When news broke on May 2nd that 2017 Point Guard Aaron Thompson had committed to play for Butler, fans around the country were left celebrating and attempting to calculate the number of newcomers that would be donning the home-white's and road-black's next season.
Thompson, a 6'3", 175lb lefty from Fairfax, VA, who originally committed to play for Coach Stallings at University of Pittsburgh, chose the Bulldogs over Western Kentucky, Dayton, Ohio State and VCU after re-opening his recruitment on April 21, 2017. His pledge, and eventual letter of intent, completed one of the largest and highly coveted classes in program history.
Rated as a four-star recruit on ESPN and Scout services, Thompson joins four other scholarship freshmen in Jerald Butler, Christian David, Cooper Neese and Kyle Young, a medical redshirt freshman in Joey Brunk, a George Washington transfer, Paul Jorgenson, and two freshmen walk-ons (Campbell Donovan and Connor Fulton) as newly eligible members of the team.
Although Butler was not involved in his original recruitment, prior to committing to Pitt, they wasted little time reaching out once he received his release.
"I didn't really know much about Butler when they first contacted me. Other than that it was in the Big East and they make deep NCAA tournament runs frequently," Thompson admitted.
Eleven days later, Thompson had learned all that he needed to know.
"I felt as though Butler was an elite basketball situation where I can play at the highest level of college basketball and also get a great education in a very nice city," Thompson explained to ButlerHoops.com.
A Washington Post All-Metropolitan first-team selection, Thompson's 10.9 points per game and lockdown defense this past high school season helped perennial Virginia power Paul VI to a 29-8 record, behind only Gonzaga College in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference - which followed a 22-11 record and state championship game appearance a season before.
A three-year starter at Paul VI, Thompson also suited up for Team Takeover on the 2016 Nike EYBL Circuit, averaging 7.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.4 steals a game while playing alongside 2018 6'10" Forward Jalen Smith, who Thompson confirmed Butler is following closely.
In desperate need of a point guard, Chris Holtmann will be thrilled to have landed a point guard for the future, with immediate impact potential. However, when discussing the upcoming transition to the college game and his role at Butler, Thompson said that the coaching staff was open about their expectations.
"They kept it 100% honest telling me that nothing will be given, but that I have a chance to play immediately if I earn the minutes and that I can be a big piece in what we do" he explained. "Just do what I do by leading and getting after it on defense and they will help develop my game offensively."
"I believe my defense and my ability to lead and distribute the ball will translate immediately." Thompson added, "I think my ability to score will really improve once I learn the in's and out's and get a good feel for the speed of the game."
While a scheduled pre-season trip to Spain this summer offers a unique opportunity for travel and sightseeing, Thompson is most excited about simply being a part of the Butler program.
"Just the reputation and the respect that comes with it. When you hear Butler you know you are gonna get a fight," Thompson said. "ButlerNation should know I'm going to give them all I got every time I step on the court".