Alexandria's Treyton Thompson was on his way to a team camp for a border rival of the University of Minnesota when he got an exciting phone call from the Gophers on June 15.
Minnesota coaches were ready to give the 6-foot, 11-inch forward a scholarship offer after watching him through workouts and seeing him enough in recent months.
"I was shopping in Family Dollar with my coach about to go to the Wisconsin camp," Thompson said on June 18. "We had our little fist bump and that was basically it, but deep down I was extremely excited. They're one of the teams I've been watching my whole life and to get an offer from them is just awesome."
Thompson is gaining the attention of programs around the country. As of mid-June, the Gophers and Texas Tech are his two offers, but he's hearing from a large list of schools that includes Purdue, Creighton, Appalachian State, Xavier, Princeton, Marquette, Cal Poly, Wisconsin and Air Force.
Thompson, who will be a junior this coming school year, averaged 15.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game for Alexandria last winter. He is playing his AAU ball with the Howard Pulley 16s this summer, a program on the Nike EYBL circuit that is based out of the Twin Cities area.
Thompson spends almost four days a week in the metro area and stays with his AAU coach, Jonathan Williams, when he is there. Williams is a former University of Minnesota player who Thompson has built a strong relationship with.
"It's just been awesome playing for Howard Pulley," Thompson said. "I've played against some of the top talent in the country, and it seems like every game there's college coaches at our games watching, even if it's not in the EYBL. Playing against the best players in the country has brought my game up. It's made me more aware of, 'OK, this is where I want to be, and this is where I'm at right now.' "
Thompson is working this offseason on improving his strength. That continues to be a focus for him as he tries to put on weight to give himself more of an advantage in the post, while also continuing to grow his game as a big man who can stretch the defense from the perimeter.
"When I get in the gym, it's trying to make me into the player I want to be," he said. "I do a lot of ball handling. You don't really see a lot of 7-footers who can handle the ball and shoot the ball. That's really what I work on the most."
Thompson is part of a Minnesota high school basketball scene that continues to churn out Division I prospects year after year.
The 2020 graduating class in the state has seven players ranked among the top 220 prospects in the country, according to the recruiting service 247 Sports. That is headlined by four players in the top 100 in Jalen Suggs (Minnehaha Academy), Dawson Garcia (Prior Lake), Dain Dainja (Park Center) and Ben Carlson (East Ridge), who all have Gopher offers.
Thompson is currently ranked as the No. 63 prospect in the country in the 247 Sports 2021 rankings. Another 7-footer, Chet Holmgren of Minnehaha Academy, is the 31st ranked recruit and garnering offers from big-time programs all over the country this summer. Kendall Brown of East Ridge is a 6-foot, 7-inch forward ranked as a top-25 player in the country.
"I for sure want to be known as one of the better players in the state, and that's what I've been working for," Thompson said. "I wake up every morning thinking about how I can be better. You just have to keep grinding, basically."
The offer from Minnesota was another step in the recruiting process for Thompson. He is excited to have the opportunity to play for the home-state program, but plans to let his recruitment play out as he continues to focus on improving his game.
"I don't think I'm going to commit any time soon," Thompson said. "Maybe at the end of my junior year or something like that. My coach has given me more information on that, but I want to take some of my official visits, go see the campuses and everything like that. I'm looking for a school that will push me academically and when I'm on the court."