Grady Thompson settling in on key reserve role for University of Dubuque

Grady Thompson of Princeton is settling in as a key reserve role as a freshmen for the University of Dubuque basketball team. He has played in all of their first 15 games, averaging 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds over 22.3 minutes a game.

Grady Thompson was in Hoops heaven a year ago playing basketball at Princeton High School.

He was the leading scorer for a Tigers team that was ranked No. 1 for most of the season and tied the school record for wins, reaching the Class 2A Sweet 16.

He became Princeton’s first First-Team All-State selection since Joe Ruklick, breaking the legendary Tiger’s all-time scoring record one year ago tonight (Jan. 31).

This year, Thompson is settling in to his role as a key freshman reserve for the University of Dubuque.

He’s played in all 19 games for the Spartans with one start, averaging 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds over 22.3 minutes a game, shooting 45% from the field, 39.5% on 3s.

It’s a role it took awhile getting use to after being the guy at PHS.

“It’s a little different. At Princeton, we were good. We shared the ball a lot. (But) I was used to being the guy,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing I learn how to play a new role, because that way later on when a freshman is playing the role I am now, I can help them when I’m a senior and the guy again.”

Grady Thompson

Thompson said he’s had his ups and downs.

“Last few games I haven’t played that well, but early on I was playing really well. (Saturday) I played pretty solid and if we can get back to doing that, it will be good,” said Thompson, who scored in double digits in nine of the first 15 games with a season-high 15 against Monmouth College.

In Saturday’s home game with Edgewood College of Madison Wisc. in Dubuque along the shores of the Mississippi, in front of his parents and a hometown sportswriter and wife, Thompson was the first man off the bench in a game the Spartans pulled away for an 82-58 victory with a strong second half.

He pulled down a team-high seven rebounds with nine points in 22 minutes on 2-4 shooting from the field, hitting his only 3-point attempt, and going 4 of 4 on free throws.

Thompson said he’s learned a lot along the way adjusting to the college game.

“I’ve learned that my mid-range (shot) is a lot better than I thought. I figured that out when we played UW-Superior. I hit three or four of them,” he said. “I think defensively I can improve, because it’s a lot more physical.

“It’s not as easy to drive to the basket. That’s kind of when my middie comes in. Because I can get to my pull-up now. It’s hard to get all the way to the rim.”

A Business Administration major, Thompson is also keeping up with his grades, having made the Dean’s List in his first semester.

Dubuque coach Robbie Sieverding said Thompson is fitting in great with the Spartans now with a bigger role to come.

“Grady has played really well for us this season. It is usually a very tough transition from high school to our level but Grady has adapted well,” Sieverding said. “Grady has rebounded the ball great for us and provided us some scoring off the bench and we anticipate his role getting bigger and bigger as he moves through his career.

“Grady is a great teammate and we can’t wait to see his development moving forward. Grady is a very important piece of our team and has a chance to do some great things moving forward.

The Spartans (15-4) started out the season like gang-busters, winning their first 13 games of the season and being ranked as high as No. 18 in the Div. III ranks.

They lost to Coe 63-59 on Jan. 10 and fell out of the rankings, and lost three of their next four with top scorer Jaylin McCants out for two games and not at full strength for another loss.

“We’ve just got to trust our work, stay consistent in the gym,” Thompson said. “All of our losses are to top 25 teams. Nothing to hold our heads against.”

With three senior starters set to leave UD from this year’s team, Thompson’s role figures to grow next year.

“I think next year I could be our second option honestly,” he said. “I think Jaylin is coming back and is going to be the first option right now. I’d like to be our second option next year.”

Thompson tries to watch the Tigers as much as he can to keep up with the boys back home.

“It was a good time. Packed crowds every night. We don’t get packed crowds here every night,” he said.

Kevin Hieronymus has been the BCR Sports Editor since 1986. Contact him at

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