Heâ€™s definitely one that got away, a dynamite basketball player that took his long-range game from Winthrop to St. Maryâ€™s High School in Lynn and became a star.
Surely, Dave Brown would loved to have seen the sharpshooting 6-foot-2-inch Devin Thompson playing in his Winthrop High program but he had enrolled at St. Maryâ€™s in the seventh grade and decided to remain there for his high school career.
Brown and his Vikings won a state title in 2011, beating Thompson and his St. Maryâ€™s team in the North final. This year St. Maryâ€™s and Thompson met Winthrop in the first round and the Spartans prevailed. St. Maryâ€™s, with Thompson leading the way, went on to win the state championship.
On high school basketballâ€™s biggest stage, the state final at the TD Garden in Boston, the 6-foot, 2-inch Thompson put on quite a show, scoring 25 points to lead St. Maryâ€™s to a 70-64 victory over Cathedral High School.
Thompson was 9-of-16 from the floor, 3-of-4 from three-point land, and 4-of-7 from the free throw line in a memorable finale on the Boston Celticsâ€™ famed parquet floor. He finished his three-year varsity career with 914 points and was a two-time Catholic Central League All-Star.
â€œDevin had a tremendous career,â€ said St. Maryâ€™s coach Kevin Moran. â€œHe was a real pleasure to coach. The one thing about Devin is that he loved basketball. His success was borne on the amount of work he put into the game. He was one of our leaders. I was very fortunate to have him play for St. Maryâ€™s.â€
Moran said that Thompson ranks with the schoolâ€™s greatest outside shooters and scorers. â€œDevinâ€™s jump shot is exceptional and he showed his immense ability to shoot the ball at the Garden. His shooting is clearly up there with any player around.â€
Thompson said playing the final game of his high school career in the Garden was all he imagined it would be.
â€œPlaying in the Garden was a goal since I was about 10 years old,â€ said Thomson. â€œWatching all the Celtics games and the great players who have played there, it was just an unreal experience. Playing there with my teammates was a big deal, too.â€
The larger professional court and the Celticsâ€™ championship banners above did not faze Thompson, who was clearly the most outstanding performer in the state final.
â€œOnce you really settle down and get used to shooting around, itâ€™s really just another basketball game on another court,â€ said Thompson. â€œBut it was a great experience playing at the Garden. I even got to dunk the basketball prior to the pre-game warm-ups and I have a picture of it.â€
The 17-year-old son (he wonâ€™t turn 18 until October, making him one of the youngest students in his class) of
Devin followed his brother, Robbie [a college student at Wentworth] into youth sports and on to St. Maryâ€™s High School. He attended Immaculate Conception School in Revere and played in Winthrop Little League and St. Johnâ€™s CYO basketball with several current WHS athletes.
At St. Maryâ€™s, he knew that one day there would be a high school tournament game against Winthrop and his CYO teammates.
â€œThat loss to Winthrop in the North final was a tough one to swallow,â€ he admitted. â€œThis year, itâ€™s become such a rivalry that I was talking back and forth with my friends from Winthrop, so it was a great experience to play them again. There were so many people at that game and it was so much fun. We wanted to measure ourselves against the best team around (He scored 19 points in the victory over Winthrop).â€
Thompson said that coach Moran helped him develop his game physically and mentally.
â€œCoach Moran taught me a lot about the game,â€ said Thompson. â€œHe taught me how you need to approach it mentally as well as physically. He was a great player himself in college so he had a ton of knowledge about the game.
Thompson will conclude his athletic career at St. Maryâ€™s as the starting right fielder for the baseball team. He has committed to attend the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, where he will play college basketball and vie for a starting position.
An honor roll student and member of the National Honor Society at St. Maryâ€™s, Thompson will study physical therapy in college.
His advice to players coming up the ladder and wanting to become an effective shooter is â€œpractice.â€
â€œItâ€™s just repetition, honestly,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™ve always loved just shooting the basketball around. Just give me a ball and an empty gym and Iâ€™ll be happy for a couple of hours. I just kept on working at it.â€