Thompson Stars, Clears 'Mental Hurdle' in Exhibition

Matthew Mitchell has preached patience to Janee Thompson throughout her recovery from a leg injury that ended her 2014-15 season.

Based on how she looked in Kentucky’s lone exhibition contest, Thompson doesn’t need to wait to play some pretty good basketball.

“It felt good,” Thompson said. “It was good to get that game under my belt and start getting my rhythm back. I’m just super excited to be back on the court. I can’t thank God enough.”

Thompson looked like herself on Sunday evening, pacing the Wildcats in a 95-63 win over Union in her first time playing in front of a crowd since sustained a broken leg and dislocated ankle in January. She had 17 points, both hitting from the outside with a pair of 3s in three tries and confidently attacking the rim. She shot 7 of 10 from the field in her 25 minutes of action and added seven assists.

“My mind’s been on her so much since last January 11,” head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “She’s just had so many hurdles to clear from that tough injury and today was a mental hurdle. We’ve had a couple of scrimmages that wasn’t open to the public and it’s different when people are in Memorial.”

The Chicago native didn’t deny that Sunday was different,  but she said it only took about 30 seconds for the butterflies to go away.

“I had some nerves because it’s been so long, but it felt good,” Thompson said. “Everything felt normal. I’ve been playing for all my life pretty much, so everything pretty much came back to me easily and it was just basketball. It was just fun to be playing again, fun to be playing alongside my teammates, who were supportive of me.”

That support continues, and the same goes for Thompson’s recovery. As good as she was against Union, Mitchell only sees his point guard getting better.

“I was so excited to see her run out there and so excited to see her perform well,” Mitchell said. “She will do nothing but get better. She still has some improvements she can make. She can get much better from here, but I thought she performed really well and it was great to see her.”

Thompson wasn’t the only Wildcat to play well, as five of her teammates scored in double figures. Mitchell was pleased with the effort his team turned in, but he says the Cats are only at the beginning of an upward trajectory just like Thompson.

“Janee, like all of us, we’re a real work in progress here,” Mitchell said. “This is a different year for us. This is a different situation that we’re in, but it’s been a real fun week this last week because they got better. I think we saw some positive things out there today.”