INDIANAPOLIS — Aaron Thompson has just one goal in mind for his immediate future: Play professional basketball for as long as possible. But the Butler Bulldog product hadn’t received any NBA attention until Monday, when he worked out for the Indiana Pacers.
With the NBA Draft days away, Thompson was grateful to just get a shot with a professional organization. After spending five seasons with the Bulldogs, Thompson left with the program’s career assists records but averaged just 7.3 points during his career. The chances of Thompson landing on an NBA roster might be slim, but Monday’s workout gave him just as much exposure as every other player.
Previously:Thomas Jackson’s Butler basketball assists record set to be broken, but his legacy endures
“I feel like I was brought in to be a prospect,” Thompson said. “If they brought me in, they would expect me to come out and perform and show what I can do. That confidence in myself has taken me a long way. I feel like if I’m in here with the rest of the guys, I got just an equal of a shot.”
Thompson worked out alongside top prospect Shaedon Sharpe, Jake LaRavia, Jermaine Samuels, Alfonso Plummer and Vincent Williams Jr. Thompson said he liked the way he competed Monday with his main role being to defend and facilitate the offense.
More:Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe speaks to the media after his Pacers pre-draft workout
While his role in the workout was similar to his at Butler, he believes it could broaden in the professional game.
“If I had a chance to play, I think that my role would definitely expand,” Thompson said. “I think I could show my ability to make shots. I came out here and I made one today. I think what I showed in college, my role would be more like a TJ McConnell, just playing that role to lead guys.”
Since finishing a five-year career at Butler, Thompson has continued training in Indiana while helping with the Bulldogs’ summer camps. The ideal goal for Thompson is to make an NBA team’s summer league roster, but he would be equally as excited to build a career overseas.
While Thompson enjoys teaching basketball and working with kids at camps, he isn’t ready to think about a coaching career yet. He believes a lengthy professional career is in the cards for him and it’s always been the vision.
“It would just make a lifelong dream come true, playing basketball for money. A lot of people dream of that,” Thompson said. “I try not to take it for granted. Every day I get up and work to the best of my ability just so I can make that come true.”
With Thompson having his first and likely last NBA workout, he was special to compete again in Indianapolis, the place where he did the most growing up. His basketball career in Indiana hasn’t always gone the way he hoped, as the Bulldogs had three losing seasons in the five years Thompson was there.
Then a few weeks after Thompson played his final collegiate game, his former head coach and role model LaVall Jordan was fired from Butler. While Thompson said the two haven’t had a chance to talk lately, he had a difficult time with Jordan’s firing.
Related:Butler fires basketball coach LaVall Jordan
“I feel like LaVall is a Butler guy, so he was tough on me because I know his history, him going to Butler then coming back and being a coach,” Thompson said. “I know it was a dream of his. I took it just like he took it. It was hard on me knowing that was my coach and we went through that thing together. So it kind of took a toll on me as well.”
Despite some of the tough experiences in college, Thompson is forever grateful for Butler. The basketball history at Butler and in Indiana is something he feels forever attached to.
“Butler is definitely a special place to me,” Thompson said. “I spent five years there. I grew up at Butler. I feel like I became a man there. It’s definitely a special place. Guys like Ron (Nored) coming back and just getting in the game and how to carry things. I think that stuff is special, even more special that’s he’s here helping me out.”