FAYETTEVILLE - Even with Lee Mayberry, the greatest pure point guard in Razorbacks history as a teammate, very big, big man Oliver Miller dazzled as a passer on Nolan Richardson’s 1989-92 conference champion Arkansas teams that ascended the 1990 Final Four and 1991 Elite Eight.
Now look at Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks. They sport an array of good passing guards but none sport a better passing grade lately than Trey Thompson, their 6-9 265, off the bench center/power forward.
“He’s one of our better passers,” Anderson said after Thompson dished three assists at South Carolina and three assists against Ole Miss at Walton Arena in SEC games the Razorbacks recently won, 83-76 and 98-80.
Anderson’s “one of our better passers” assessment didn’t suffice for Wednesday’s 86-77 SEC success over Texas A&M at Walton.
Thompson was the best passer in the game. He dished six assists, two more than next best Arkansas guard Daryl Macon and A&M guard Admon Gilder. Six assists against but one turnover to Gilder’s five. Had not first-half foul trouble interrupted, who knows how many assists the Madison native and Forrest City High grad would have compiled? Thompson dished four assists in five first-half minutes. He subbed for Kingsley at 13:31 and sat the half’s 9:01 upon his second foul.
Thompson tallied five points, three rebounds and a steal in his 18 minutes.
“That just put you in the mind of one of our favorite guys that was here tonight and that is Oliver Miller, who was one of the great passing big guys that we had,” said Anderson. “I always talk about Big O . Now Trey can see him and maybe even go back and watch some of the games and say, ‘Okay, I see what coach is talking about.”
Miller was far more of a scorer than Thompson, who sometimes needs to be begged to shoot.
“I told you to stop passing up them shots,” Arkansas guard Daryl Macon said after Macon scored 30 points while Thompson only took four shots and hit them all.
In other aspects they Thompson and Miller because both are “instinctive,” Anderson said.
“He’s probably one of the highest basketball IQ guys we have out on the floor,” Anderson said. “When you look at him, you don’t think much. But then when you look at how he plays and the effect he has on the game, he’s one of our better passers, he’s one of our better screeners, he’s one of our better rebounders. So when you add it up, Trey is a very good basketball player.”
A very good player who has made Kingsley’s Razorbacks basketball life considerably easier whether spelling Kingsley so the senior can rest or playing in tandem with Kingsley. That pair provides Arkansas’ best forecourt but playing them together long stretches risk putting both in foul trouble.
“He’s made a huge difference,” Kingsley said. “It’s not about the numbers with him. He understands the game way better than some of us on the team. He helps us read things, especially on defense.”
And he can score offensively without scoring a point which Kingsley said shooting guards Dusty Hannahs and Macon especially appreciate.
“Some people look at the numbers and think he’s not contributing to the team,” Kingsley said. “But he’s one of the major keys to the team. He’s setting screens to get Daryl and Dusty open for their shots. Sometimes you forget who’s setting a screen, how they’re getting wide open. He’s the one doing that job.”
And exploiting passing lanes created when defenses chase Macon or Hannahs or both.
“He’s one of the best on the team giving backdoor passes for assists,” Kingsley said. “He’s a very big key to this team.”
“When Trey is rebounding, blocking shots – when he’s finding people, dunking the ball - when you get that Trey - that Trey is the one you should be scared of when you’re the opposite team,” Macon said. “Because that Trey is going to bring it.”