Early in the season, it had looked as though Corona Del Sol would be the team to beat all season long in the state's Division-I Class, and, while they still are, Sunnyslope has become a team that may be able to challenge the two-time defending state champions. After posting an impressive 26-4 overall record this season, and while only losing to one team within the state of Arizona this high school season, the Vikings have become one of the state's premier teams.
Led by the overall play of 6-foot-3, 185-pound junior guard Sammy Thompkins and stellar 6-foot-10 senior post Michael Humphrey (Stanford signee) this season, Sunnyslope has almost been unbeatable this season - finally losing a game during the sectional playoffs last week to Pinnacle High School in the Division-I, Section-I semi-finals. While Michael Humphrey has been as unstoppable a force this season as there has been in the state, and may be the best player in the state currently, it was understood before the season just how good Humphrey had developed. After a tremendous spring and summer performance where Humphrey reeled in more than 40 different division-I scholarship offers on the club circuit, it was well known just how important Humphrey would be to the success of the Vikings this season.
The play of Sammy Thompkins has been a major key to Sunnyslope's success this season, as the incoming transfer guard prospect has flourished this season - picking up where he left off last season as a sophomore in Tucson, while playing for Marana High School. Thompkins is coming an excellent sophomore season, as he ranked among the top individual performers in the state as a mere sophomore – averaging 20.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.2 steals per/game.
This season, Thompkins has come up huge for head coach Ray Portela, playing big all season for the Vikings and leading the team to a very impressive season thus far. Thompkins has been the team's leading scorer - averaging 22.7 points, 3.3 assists, 5 rebounds and 2.2 steals per/game this season.
The success of Sunnyslope this season has not been anything new for the Viking's basketball program though, as the team is coming off an excellent season in 2012-2013, when the team finished with a very impressive 28-4 overall record last season. The Vikings would advance to the Division-II state semi-finals before falling to eventual state champion, Paradise Valley HS last season.
It will be very interesting to see just how far this year's version of the Vikings will be able to go. With the addition of Thompkins to the team this season and the emergence of a dominant Humphrey in the post, the Vikings will be much tougher to defend in this year's state playoffs. The key though, will be getting the basketball inside to Humphrey. Many times this season, the Vikings have struggled to get the basketball into Humphrey in late game situations. Especially in last week's loss to Pinnacle, Humphrey disappeared for the Vikings in the fourth period, but not by default. His teammates simply ignored him in the post. In this year's state playoffs, if Sunnyslope is to win it all, they will need Humphrey at his best, and that will start with him seeing touches on the offensive end.
Thompkins, while having the basketball in his hands a great deal, will be very important to the overall success of his team, and also keeping Humphrey in the flow of the game.
"He has to get the ball," said Thompkins. "He is too big and good down there to not touch the basketball. We won't have him next year when I am a senior, so we have to win it now."
Thompkins' development as a point guard will be a major factor in the success of this Sunnyslope team this post-season. While he is a tremendous scorer of the basketball, his ability to make players around him better will be vital to the team's late season success.
Thompkins, our #1 rated shooting guard prospect in Arizona’s 2015 class, is among the top individual overall prospects in Arizona. The son of former college standout Gary Thompkins, who played at Iowa State, Thompkins already possesses a college-ready body at such a young age. Thompkins’ physical size, strength and shooting stroke are glaring attributes for him as a college prospect. He is also capable of playing both guard positions on the floor, which makes him a versatile prospect and valuable to his team. His continued development as a point guard though will define his college recruitment.
Thompkins has already received a scholarship offer from San Jose State University, and is currently hearing from such schools as Arizona State, Iowa State, Washington State, Nebraska, Tulsa, Nevada, Grand Canyon, Saint Mary's, Cal-State Northridge, Mississippi State, Pepperdine, Weber State and Northern Arizona, among many others. Thompkins will look to garner much more recruiting interest this up-and-coming spring and summer. How much his recruiting reputation will grow this off-season, will be impacted by the success of the guard prospect this post-season.
The combination of Humphrey and Thompkins this post-season should be one to watch, as these two prospects look to lead the Vikings to this year’s Division-I state championship.