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This summer served as an opportunity for Trinity Thompson to separate herself from other girls basketball players in the Class of 2021, and she took full advantage.

As a member of the Indy Lady Gym Rats in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League — one of the top AAU circuits in the country — Thompson traveled to several different states and faced some of the best prep players in the nation. While the trips were fun, Michigan City’s standout forward also said they were a bit taxing, and she’s enjoyed winding things down after being on the road almost every weekend since April.

The junior is in the midst of a three-week hiatus from basketball to rest and recover, and she believes she’s earned it after reeling in Division I scholarship offers from Marshall, Western Michigan and Wright State. Thompson will be back in the gym Monday to continue building on what she views as her best offseason yet.

“It’s been great for me, and it’s also been a lot,” said Thompson, who has worked diligently on her ball-handling and shooting. “Having to call coaches all of the time, making sure you’re calling them on the right schedule, making sure your schedule for calling them is going along with your AAU schedule, it’s been a nice, crazy ride. I’m having fun with it right now.”

Thompson added that she’s also drawing interest from Iowa, St. Mary’s (Calif.), Valparaiso, IUPUI, Indiana State, Marquette, Miami (Ohio) and Jacksonville State, and thanked Michigan City coach Mike Megyese for being very supportive throughout her recruiting process. In addition to her parents, Megyese accompanied Thompson on her official visit to Western Michigan and attended one of her AAU games when she competed in a tournament in Chicago.

“He literally goes above and beyond for me,” Thompson said. “My AAU teammates were very shocked when he came to my game. They were like, ‘That’s your high school coach? Wow, I wish my high school coach would come to our hometown games.’”

Watching one his best players continue to work on her game has been a joy for Megyese, who will enter his 11th season at Michigan City in the winter. The longtime coach also spent 12 seasons at South Bend Sr. Joseph before joining the Wolves and said that throughout his 23-year career, Thompson is one of the most mature players he’s ever had.

She does all of the typical things that future college players do, like staying after practice for extra reps and maintaining a solid GPA, but the most notable difference is her age. Thompson started kindergarten a year early, so although she’s gearing up for her third prep season, she’s only 15 years old.

The junior won’t turn 16 until October 25, and Megyese thinks that shouldn’t be overlooked. Thompson transferred from West Side to Michigan City after her freshman year for better academic and athletic opportunities, and Megyese said it’s been a joy to have her join his program because of her high character and versatility.

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“All you have to do is meet her parents one time, and you know she’s been raised well,” Megyese said. “And then basketball-wise, she does so many different things. She can pass, she can dribble, she can bring the ball up the court. She can also get to the hoop, she can rebound, she can block shots. You name it, and she can do it. She can do it all.”

Megyese described Thompson as a "stat-stuffer" for the Wolves last season, and commended her for accepting her role. She averaged 9.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.2 steals and 3.6 assists as a sophomore, while senior Hannah Noveroske, Michigan City’s all-time leading scorer, shouldered most of the workload.

Now that Noveroske is preparing for her freshman season at Indiana, Megyese is confident that Thompson will embrace being more of a leader. The Wolves also graduated three other starters from last year’s team, which finished 20-5. But Thompson said the change in personnel doesn’t concern her because all she can do is be herself.

That’s a message she’s heard her entire life from her parents, and it’s been echoed by Calumet boys basketball coach Dominique Nelson. The Warriors’ coach attended Tennessee State University with Thompson’s father, Royce Thompson, and the two have remained close friends ever since.

Nelson said that over the years they’ve become more like family than friends, so when Royce Thompson reached out to see if Nelson would train his daughter in the offseason, it was a no-brainer. Trinity Thompson has been working with her “uncle coach,” for the past two summers, and Nelson is certain she has all of the tools to become a great player.

“When she first came in, she would always say she can’t do something, and I told her, ‘Stop telling me what you can’t do.’” said Nelson, who graduated from TSU in 2007. “So now when she goes on the court and does the things we worked on and it carries over into her AAU tournaments and her school season, I get very excited to see her development.’”

Aside from one-on-one workouts, Trinity Thompson also participates in scrimmages with the boys team, and Nelson said his athletes don’t take it easy on her. They treat her as just another player, and she wouldn’t want it any other way.

As she prepares for what could be a breakout season at Michigan City, the junior remains inspired and grounded by her coach, family and coach who turned into family. Trinity Thompson didn’t start taking basketball seriously until the summer going into her freshman year, and after seeing her hard work pay off, she is eager to continue maximizing her potential.

The 15-year-old is the oldest of five children and said that more than anything, she wants to set an example of hard work and dedication for her three younger brothers and 5-year-old sister, Regan, who copies her every move and is already beginning first grade.

“I try my best to make sure I do everything correctly, and I think that’s what motivates me and pushes me harder,” Trinity Thompson said. “I have to make sure I’m taking the right steps to be better or be better than better. Once you start going up, you can’t just stop and stay there. You have to keep going, and I try to teach that to my siblings.”

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Lake County Sports Reporter

James Boyd is the Lake County prep sports reporter for The Times. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a proud native of Romeoville, Illinois. Before anything else, his main goal in life is to spread love and light.