Former NBA First Round draft pick and Oklahoma State star Brooks Thompson is in his eighth season as head coach of the UTSA men’s basketball program. Introduced as the Roadrunners’ fifth head coach on April 18, 2006, Thompson has assembled a talented and hard-working staff with more than 40 combined years of collegiate coaching experience and the result has been a turnaround both on and off the court.
In his seven years in the Alamo City, UTSA has registered the school’s first-ever NCAA postseason victory in any sport, captured one league championship, made two conference tournament title game appearances and recorded the most successful four-year stretch (76 wins) in two decades. More than 20 school records have fallen under his watch, while nine players have earned all-conference honors and three have been tabbed league freshman of the year (Devin Gibson, 2008; Melvin Johnson III, 2010; Jeromie Hill, 2011).
The Roadrunners also have taken care of business in the classroom. UTSA has collected eight league all-academic certificates under Thompson, including Southland Conference Student-Athlete of the Year honorees in Gibson (2010, ’11) and Hill (2012). Kurt Attaway garnered Academic All-District accolades in 2007. Additionally, the program’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) has improved significantly since Thompson’s arrival, jumping from an 818 for the season prior to his arrival to a 945 in the last report. Thompson also has placed a strong emphasis on graduating players, as more than 80 percent of his student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility at UTSA have earned their undergraduate degree.
Last season, UTSA won five of its last eight games for a strong finish in its first and only season in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). The ninth-seeded Roadrunners ran past No. 8 San Jose State (67-49) in the opening round of the WAC Tournament before pulling off the biggest upset by seed in the tournament history by ousting top-seed and regular season co-champion Louisiana Tech, 73-67, in the quarterfinal round. UTSA made the program’s third conference tournament semifinal appearance in the past five seasons, where it fell to UT Arlington. UTSA defeated Holy Cross and Old Dominion on the season-opening weekend en route to capturing the Liberty Tax Classic crown. Michael Hale III earned third-team All-WAC honors and Hill was named to the WAC All-Academic Team.
In 2011-12, Thompson guided UTSA to an 18-14 record and its fifth consecutive berth in the Southland Tournament. The Roadrunners recorded a 10-6 league ledger, their most conference wins since 2004-05, which resulted in a third-place finish in the West Division. Hill was tabbed Southland Student-Athlete of the Year and second-team all-conference and NABC All-District 23, while Johnson III and Kannon Burrage earned third-team and honorable mention accolades, respectively.
The 2010-11 campaign arguably was the most successful in 20 years. Thompson guided UTSA to the Southland Tournament Championship for the first time since 2004 and to the program’s fourth NCAA Tournament appearance, where it registered the first NCAA postseason victory in any sport in the department’s 30-year history with a 70-61 first-round victory over Alabama State during the First Four on March 16 in Dayton, Ohio. That outcome gave UTSA its first 20-win season in 19 years. He led the Roadrunners to their second consecutive 4-1 start — a school record — and their fourth straight 4-0 start at home. UTSA tied for third in the Southland West Division and fifth overall to qualify for its fourth straight Southland Tournament, where it upset the top three seeds en route to the crown. Top-ranked Ohio State ended the Roadrunners’ season at 20-14 with a 75-46 setback in the NCAA Second Round in Cleveland.
Six school records were broken in 2010-11, as Gibson has eclipsed the career assists, steals, free throws, games played and starts standards and the single-season free throws mark. Gibson earned first-team NABC All-District 23 and first-team All-Southland honors and was named Southland Tournament MVP and Southland Student-Athlete of the Year for the second straight season. Hill was tabbed a Mid-Major Freshman All-American by CollegeInsider.com and Southland Freshmen of the Year and he earned honorable mention all-league accolades along with Johnson III and all-tournament honors along with Gibson.
In June 2010, Thompson served as a court coach for the Team USA Under-18 National Team training camp held on the UTSA campus. He worked with the National Team coaching staff prior to the selection of the 12-member team that represented the USA at the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
In 2009-10, UTSA opened with a 4-0 overall record for the first time in school history and got off to the best 15-game start in school annals with a 12-3 mark. That stretch included a historic road win at Iowa — the Hawkeyes’ first home-opening loss since 1962 and first season-opening defeat since 1978 — and a home victory against Conference USA Tournament Champion Houston, its third consecutive victory against a member of that league.
The Roadrunners finished 19-11 overall and tied for third in the Southland Conference West Division and fifth overall with a 9-7 league mark. UTSA won a school-record 10 non-conference contests, including a UTSA-best seven victories against Division I opponents, and advanced to the Southland Tournament for the third consecutive year. Gibson earned second-team All-Southland honors, Johnson III was tabbed the league’s Freshman of the Year and Omar Johnson and Morris Smith IV garnered honorable mention accolades.
The 2008-09 Roadrunners posted a 19-13 record, including an 8-8 league ledger. It marked the most overall wins since the 2003-04 team also won 19 games. In its second straight Southland Tournament appearance, the Roadrunners upended Sam Houston State and Nicholls en route to making the program’s first championship game in six seasons.
A trio of Roadrunners earned all-conference accolades, as Travis Gabbidon and Gibson both were named to the third team, while Omar Johnson was an honorable mention pick. Gibson, who also made the All-Southland Tournament Team, once again ranked near the top of the NCAA in steals per game with 82 thefts in 27 contests (3.0 spg) for third overall.
As a team, UTSA led the Southland and ranked eighth in the nation with 9.3 steals per game and ninth with a +4.0 turnover margin. The Roadrunners also rattled home a school-record and league-leading 268 3-pointers to rank 18th in the NCAA with 8.4 per game.
In his second season in 2007-08, UTSA tied for third in the West Division of the Southland and sixth overall with a 7-9 league record. Thompson led the Roadrunners to 13 wins and back to the Southland Tournament for the first time since 2006 despite suiting up as few as eight players in the final month of the season due to injuries. Thompson tutored Gibson to Southland Freshman of the Year, second-team all-conference, CollegeInsider.com Freshman Mid-Major All-America and CollegeHoops.net Mid-Major All-Freshman Team honors and he became just the third freshman in history to lead the NCAA in steals with 3.32 per contest.
As a team, UTSA recorded 8.7 steals per game, which was third in the conference and 25th in the nation, while the Roadrunners’ turnover margin of +3.50 stood second in the league. A commitment to on-the-ball pressure defense helped produce an average of 19.5 turnovers per game by UTSA opponents, including 15 games with 20 or more.
In his inaugural campaign, Thompson’s Roadrunners set school records for fewest field goals allowed in a season (649), fewest field goals allowed in a game (13, by San Diego, Nov. 26, 2006) and lowest field goal percentage by an opponent (24.5%, San Diego). UTSA also finished second in the Southland in scoring defense (66.3 points allowed per game).
Point guard Kurt Attaway led the league in steals (2.07 per game) and collected numerous postseason awards in 2006-07. He earned CoSIDA Academic All-District VI and Southland All-Academic Team honors for the third time each and Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association All-Academic Team accolades, as well as being named the Southland’s Steve McCarty Citizenship Award winner and a Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup honorable mention candidate.
Thompson came to UTSA from Arizona State, where he served as an assistant coach for two seasons. He helped the Sun Devils post eight wins against teams that qualified for the postseason and one of his players — Ike Diogu — was the Pac-10 Player of the Year, a second-team All-American and the ninth overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft (Golden State Warriors). The Sun Devils qualified for the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) in 2005.
Prior to his stint at Arizona State, Thompson was head coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Ariz., for two seasons (2002-04) where he compiled a 55-14 record and a .797 winning percentage, the highest in school history. He was named NJCAA Region I Coach of the Year both seasons and Arizona Community College Athletic Conference (ACCAC) Coach of the Year in 2002-03. Thompson led the Roughriders to back-to-back ACCAC regular season titles — the first two conference titles in school history — and to two consecutive Region I Tournament Championships.
Thompson guided Yavapai to a 28-7 record in 2002-03, qualifying for the NJCAA Tournament and finishing with a final national ranking of No. 11. In 2003-04, Yavapai was ranked as high as No. 8 and finished the season with a 27-7 mark, a No. 17 ranking and a second straight NJCAA Tournament berth — Yavapai had previously qualified just once in 1980. The Roughriders scored 91.1 points per game (14th in the nation) and ranked 13th in the country in both field goal percentage (55.0) and 3-point field goal percentage (38.0).
He began his coaching career as an undergraduate assistant at Oklahoma State in 1998-99 and served as head coach at Metro Christian Academy in Tulsa, Okla., in 1999-2000. He then was an assistant coach for one season at Southeastern Louisiana in 2000-01.
Thompson returned to his alma mater for one season as director of basketball operations in 2001-02, helping the Cowboys reach the NCAA Tournament.
In all, Thompson has coached 17 players who have gone on to professional careers, including five current or former NBA players. That list includes Diogu, former Oklahoma State stars Maurice Baker, Desmond Mason and Melvin Sanders and former Yavapai standout Larry Owens.
Also a standout player, he was the 1989 Colorado Prep Player of the Year after guiding Littleton High School to a 24-0 record and the Class 4A State Championship.
Thompson played two seasons at Texas A&M in 1989-91 where he earned second-team All-Southwest Conference honors after his sophomore campaign. He then transferred to Oklahoma State where he was a second-team All-Big Eight selection in 1992-93 and a first-team all-conference performer in 1993-94. He led the Cowboys in assists both seasons and averaged 16.9 points per game as a senior. He tallied 1,675 career points during his four collegiate seasons.
The Orlando Magic selected Thompson in the first round of the 1994 NBA Draft. He played in the NBA Finals in 1995 for the Magic and set the franchise record for most points in a quarter (21). He also played for the Utah Jazz in 1996, the Denver Nuggets in 1996-97, the Phoenix Suns in 1997-98 and the New York Knicks in 1998 and spent one year overseas with Iraklis in Greece (1997).
Following his professional playing days, Thompson earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Oklahoma State in 2001.
He and his wife, Michelle, have three daughters, Ryan Michelle, Brooke and Addison.
The Brooks Thompson File
Career record: 161-127 (.559)
· 2006-present: Head Coach, UTSA
· 2004-06: Assistant Coach, Arizona State
· 2002-04: Head Coach, Yavapai (Ariz.) College
· 2001-02: Director of Basketball Operations, Oklahoma State
· 2000-01: Assistant Coach, Southeastern Louisiana
· 1999-2000: Head Coach, Metro Christian Academy (Tulsa, Okla.)
· 1998-99: Undergraduate Assistant Coach, Oklahoma State
· 1998: New York Knicks (NBA)
· 1997-98: Phoenix Suns (NBA)
· 1997: Iraklis (Greece)
· 1996-97: Denver Nuggets (NBA)
· 1996: Utah Jazz (NBA)
· 1994-95: Orlando Magic (NBA)
· 1992-94: Oklahoma State
· 1989-91: Texas A&M
· Littleton (Colo.) High School
· Earned bachelor's degree in political science from Oklahoma State in 2001
· Graduated from Littleton High School in 1989
· Wife: Michelle
· Daughters: Ryan Michelle, Brooke and Addison
What They’re Saying About Brooks Thompson
“Brooks is one of the bright young guys in our profession. There is no doubt that he is one of the rising stars in the game of basketball. His ability to communicate with his players, administration, alumni, recruits and the media has played a major role in his success and will continue to pay dividends throughout his career. He is a tireless worker and a quality person.”
Bill Self — head coach, Kansas
“His work ethic, enthusiasm and knowledge of the game make him one of the best young coaches in our profession. I am completely sold on Brooks as a coach and a person. With his experience as both a head and assistant coach at the collegiate level, I have no doubt that Brooks is qualified and capable to not only lead a Division I program, but be highly successful in his effort.”
Rob Evans — former head coach, Mississippi & Arizona State
“He got a great start in coaching under a guy like Eddie Sutton. He always played with intelligence and passion. If his players play with those same qualities and listen to what he tells them, they’ll improve more than they realize. It’s always nice to see a guy that you coached move on and do well in the profession. It looks like Brooks is doing that.”
Jeff Van Gundy — current ESPN NBA analyst; former NBA head coach
“In my years at Oklahoma State, Brooks Thompson was not only one of the best players we’ve had but one of the most competitive, as well. After a successful career in the NBA, he has brought that same competitiveness to coaching his team. During his time on my staff at OSU, I could see he had the organization, enthusiasm, work ethic and skill to be a very successful coach. What he accomplished at Yavapai in two short years is nothing short of amazing. He led that program to unprecedented success. He has proven himself as one of the top coaches and recruiters in the country. I have no doubt that Brooks will prove himself to be an outstanding head coach at the Division I level.”
Eddie Sutton — legendary head coach at Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State