Thompson and Coleby ready to lead with experience

Jeremy Chisenhall

Lost in the madness of the multiple arrivals and departures of Mitchell Robinson, as well as other roster moves in WKU basketball team’s wild offseason, was the addition of two graduate transfers who have played for some of the top programs in college basketball: Darius Thompson and Dwight Coleby.

The two transfers make up half of WKU basketball’s senior class, as they join forward Justin Johnson, WKU’s only returning starter, and walk-on guard Tyler Miller. Together, Thompson and Coleby have played in five NCAA tournaments.

After having moved around among some of the NCAA’s more premiere programs, the two are at WKU to be leaders on a young team that features eight newcomers. As graduate transfers, Coleby and Thompson can relate to each other through their common change of scenery and new leadership roles.

“We come from the same situation,” Coleby said. “We’re doing kind of the same thing, so we’ve got that in common, being the older guys on the team. We’ve just got to step up and just be leaders for everyone else.”

Thompson is a guard who has played for Tennessee and Virginia. He holds the record for consecutive 3-pointers at UVa, as he made eight in a row during the 2015-16 season. During his last year at UVa, Thompson averaged 6.2 points, 2.2 assists and 1.6 rebounds. While at Virginia, he went to the NCAA Tournament twice, once making the Elite Eight. He also made it to the Sweet Sixteen as a freshman at Tennessee, leading the Volunteers in steals that year with 36.

Coleby is a forward who has played for Ole Miss and Kansas, making the Elite Eight with the Jayhawks last year and landing on the Academic All-Big 12 First Team. He averaged 1.7 points and 1.8 rebounds. At Ole Miss he averaged 5.4 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 53.2 percent from the floor.

Coleby said he feels he’s been a good leader so far, and he had some praise for his fellow graduate transfer senior.

“He’s like a real point guard,” Coleby said of Thompson. “He sees everything on the court. He knows where you are, and he can find you. He just gets everyone involved.”

Thompson said a leadership role is exactly what head coach Rick Stansbury wants him in.

“He just told me he needed someone to come in and be a leader,” Thompson said. “He didn’t have much experience, he had a great group of guys coming in, but he just needed that leadership. It’s big for me, Dwight and Justin to come in, step in and be leaders.”

Thompson also said he’s working to improve his leadership by being more outspoken.

“I think one of the big steps I’ve been trying to work on is just being more of a vocal leader,” Thompson said. “I’m always going to do the right thing and I’m going to lead by example, but my thing is being a vocal leader.”

The two graduated from Virginia and Kansas respectively last year. They’ll look to lead the Hilltoppers into their first official practices this week.

Reporter Jeremy Chisenhall can be reached at 859-760-0198 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @JSChisenhall.