By Jeff Miller Special to ESPNRISE.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas -- For Tristan Thompson , Friday night's debut for the Findlay Prep Pilots (Henderson, Nev.) amounted to dipping his toe in the water.
The 6-foot-9 junior post who last week left St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.) played four second-half minutes as Findlay, No. 3 in the ESPNRISE national rankings, defeated God's Academy (Dallas) 74-51 at SMU's Moody Coliseum as part of the five-game Dallas Basketball Classic. Thompson, who is from Toronto, scored one point and had one block as the Pilots improved their record to 29-0.
"I''m just getting used to everything, but it was cool," Thompson said. "It was a great win."
Thompson, who has verbally committed to Texas, said he decided to try to transfer to Findlay Prep after it was clear that he wouldn't play again for St. Benedict's, ranked No. 8 by ESPN RISE. He said he called two Findlay Prep players that he already knew -- boyhood friend and AAU teammate Cory Joseph and Texas signee Avery Bradley .
"Findlay is the right fit for me," Thompson said. "There wasn't one reason why I left [St. Benedict's]. It's wasn't just basketball. Coaches make mistakes; players make mistakes. Coach [Dan] Hurley wished me the best."
Findlay Prep coach Michael Peck said he decided to pursue adding Thompson to the team immediately after hearing from Joseph and Bradley that Thompson was interested in coming to the Las Vegas-area team that has lost only one game in two seasons.
"He's out there. And he's a good player. And a good kid," Peck said.
Thompson practiced with the Pilots on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"We want to ease him in," Peck said. "He didn't force anything. He's going to be fine."
Findlay originally came to the Dallas area to play Duncanville (Texas), ESPN RISE's preseason No. 1 team. But Duncanville and Cedar Hill (Texas) tied for first place in their Class 5A district and decided to play a tie-breaker game as part of the Classic. Organizers of the event matched Findlay with God's Academy, which also plays as an independent private school. The Pilots trailed by one point early in the second quarter but pulled away after intermision.
"I don't think we played as well as we have, the way we should have," Peck said. "We used this as an indicator of what's coming up in April [at the National High School Invitational]."
Said Bradley, who led Findlay Prep with 22 points: "Tristan's good with us on and off the court. I can't wait until he gets into a game with us and helps us to get the national championship."