Thompson twins may both go in top 10 of NBA draft
Published 7:30 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2023
The Associated Press
For all the things the Thompson Twins share — middle name, appetite for burgers, dynamic basketball skill sets — matching suits on draft night won’t be one of them.
Amen and Ausar Thompson are dressing for success in their own unique style as they prepare to go in their own separate directions for really the first time. The 6-foot-7 guards out of Overtime Elite are projected in the AP mock draft to be selected in the top 10 Thursday night in New York.
Email newsletter signup
That means, barring a daring move by a team, they will wind up in different cities.
It’s a situation that’s still hard to fully fathom for the 20-year-olds from California. It’s also a situation that reveals another shared trait: Their sense of humor.
“We’ll just constantly text each other,” explained Amen, who’s the older twin by a minute.
“But you don’t check your phone,” Ausar quickly countered.
“He’s lying,” Amen responded.
Kidding aside, their aim is to live up to their shared middle name of “XLNC” (pronounced excellence), which was bestowed on them to convey a sense of power.
“Just so with every time you’re saying their name, there’s that power behind it,” their dad, Troy, said. “Excellence, greatness — we always use all these power words and so do they, in their own expressions, so they’re always thinking on that high note.”
The Thompsons moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Florida when the twins were in eighth grade to enhance their basketball careers. The playmakers shined at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, leading the team to a state title. They received offers from several traditional Power Five basketball programs.
Instead, they pivoted.
The twins took the road less traveled to the NBA draft by signing with Overtime Elite, a professional basketball league based in Atlanta that’s opening another door to the pros for talented young players.
It was a chance to focus on basketball full-time and build up their strength. They did, too, adding 25 pounds of muscle over their two-year tenure with the league. An opportunity at a paycheck, too — Overtime Elite, which launched in 2021, compensates players with annual salaries of at least $100,000.
Their first year, the twins played on different Overtime Elite teams.
This past season, they combined — and dominated.
Amen (rhymes with “a pen”) averaged 17.2 points, 9.2 assists and 7.2 rebounds in the playoffs to lead the City Reapers to the championship.
Not to be outdone, Ausar (rhymes with “a car”), had a postseason in which he averaged 21 points, 4.8 assists and 5.2 rebounds.
When it came time to vote for the league’s regular season MVP award, it was no surprise who voted for whom.
Ausar for Amen.
Amen for Ausar.
Ausar earned MVP (along with the postseason version, too).
“It would have been funny” if Ausar won by one vote, Amen joked. “I would’ve taken mine back.”
They enjoy teasing one another — and pushing each other. They’re always in the gym, hoisting up shots or working on their footwork. They’re competitive, too, whether it be in friendly games on the court or in the video game NBA 2K, where they’re in agreement — Ausar reigns supreme on the video-game controller in hoops.
Their go-to meal comes from In-N-Out Burger. Ausar prefers a double cheeseburger with lettuce and special sauce, maybe grilled onions. Amen likes the same, just hold the cheese.
Amen’s scouting report reads like this: Explosive athleticism, with exceptional court vision. Can break down defenders with his ball-handling skills and elite first step.
Ausar’s report: Essentially the same as his brother.
Ausar projects as more of a combo guard and Amen as a ball handler in the NBA. Amen is predicted to go fourth overall to Houston and Ausar sixth to Orlando.
Their dad saw a path to the twins being elite when they were around 8 and going against players three, sometimes four, years older.
“You knew that their forward trajectory was going to be fast, because they were already improving at such a high rate,” Troy said. “From here on, I just want to enjoy watching them continue to grow into this dream and just achieve the greatness they always talked about.”
They describe their bond as “twin telepathy,” which Ausar said comes in handy not only on the basketball floor but in life.
Don’t ask for specifics, though, because that’s top secret.
“It would be bad for the world if everybody knew how to do it. I just know where he’s going to be at all times,” Ausar said.
Leading into the draft, they’ve been traveling to work out for interested teams. In Portland, they met Damian Lillard. A year ago, they were introduced to Golden State Warriors great Stephen Curry at his camp.
“It’s super cool meeting them,” Ausar said.
Amen and Ausar said they’ve competed against many of the big names in the draft class with the exception of Victor Wembanyama, the French star who is expected to go No. 1 to the San Antonio Spurs.
The twins are bracing for the likely separation and distance between them. They’re even planning for the big moment when both meet on the same NBA court at a soon-to-be-determined spot.
“That,” Amen said, “is going to make for one cool picture.”