Why hoops star Gianni Thompson chose to stay home and play for Boston College

"I felt like if there's anyone that's going to try to develop me into the player I want to be, and that I can help, that it would be them."

Gianni Thompson, a 6-foot-8 forward and rising Brimmer and May senior, has committed to play basketball for Boston College.

Thompson, who lives in Dorchester, chose BC over schools such as Virginia Tech, Xavier, Providence, and Penn State. He plays high school basketball less than a mile from the Boston College campus, and he’s eager to represent the area while competing in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Boston.com caught up with Thompson over the phone. Here’s what to know about him:

Boston.com: Can you go back in time and describe your earliest basketball memory and how you first got into the sport?

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Gianni Thompson: My earliest basketball memories are waking up on the weekends and going early with my uncle to the Quincy YMCA, and just watching him play and trying to emulate the way he plays and copying what he does, since I was like 7 or 8 years old.

BDC: At what point did you realize you wanted to devote a lot of time to basketball?

GT: It’s something I’ve always been passionate about, because I’ve been around my uncles. They both played overseas. Just watching them, watching the Celtics, the Finals team with Paul Pierce, the Big Three, it’s just something I’ve always wanted to do.

BDC: What are your favorite basketball memories so far?

GT: There was a game my sophomore year. I was kind of up and down, playing AAU. Sometimes you’re like, “How do I find myself? How am I going to differentiate myself from other players?” We played Game Elite, and the game was just perfect. I felt like I was doing everything right. It was one of those times where you’re like, “I want to do that all the time,” so you work as hard as you can to be that player all the time.

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BDC: How did you decide on Boston College, and how much did proximity to home factor into your decision?

GT: It’s great that it’s close to home, but that wasn’t why I chose it. It being close to home doesn’t mean it’s the right fit. I got along with the coaches, I loved the way they play. I’ve seen them play a lot. I’ve been there and I’m very familiar. I felt like if there’s anyone that’s going to try to develop me into the player I want to be, and that I can help, that it would be them.

BDC: What’s it like to have this decision out of the way and finalized, and what was the process like?

GT: Especially with all this uncertainty about COVID, it was just about finding the right fit. That it fit so perfectly is amazing. I’ve had a lot of guidance, from Tom Nelson, my coach. He kind of made me into the player that I am today. He gave me the blueprint, the mold. It was just up to me. He told me all the things to look for, and they checked off the list.

BDC: Are there any players you model your game after or really respect their game?

GT: I love Paul Pierce, Jayson Tatum, Paul George, all guys that can play the 2 through the 4. They’re able to play anywhere on the court. I would say the wing is where you have the most ability to impact the game, because you can switch out to guards and switch to bigs. You’re all over the place, and you’re expected to do everything, so that’s why I love those players.

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BDC: What are some areas you think you can improve on when you get to college?

GT: I would have to say my body, just getting stronger and being more physically present, and of course just developing my skill set. But I’m a pretty versatile player so I can play everywhere, so that just comes with time.

BDC: Rumor has it you’re a fan of Michael Scott and The Office. Why do you like him and the show so much? Any favorite episodes?

GT: I’m a big Office fan. It’s pure TV. It’s one of those things. Some people might get offended by some stuff, but it’s important to realize that life is fun. It’s one of those things where a bunch of adults, they just get along. That’s why I love the show. It’s just really good. I like the one where Michael is playing basketball against the guys down in the warehouse. I love that one, or when Jim and Pam get married.

BDC: What else should people know about you?

GT: I would like to think I’m a great person and I’m a funny guy. I like to take life lightheartedly but become serious when it’s the time.

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