Anchorage — Travis Thompson is a preseason all-conference pick for the UAA men's basketball team, and that, Seawolves fans, is the extent of the accolades the Dimond High graduate will accumulate this season.
Thompson, a 6-foot-1 junior guard with a deft shooting touch, will skip this season for academic reasons. He is taking a redshirt year, something that's been part of his five-year college plan from the start.
Between basketball and books, Thompson needs five years to earn his civil engineering degree. By redshirting, he gets the time he needs to complete his studies while remaining on scholarship for basketball.
He wanted to redshirt last season but was called to action when injury took down all-conference guard Mario Gill at the start Gill's senior season. Coaches asked Thompson to delay his redshirt season and Thompson agreed.
He made the most out of things -- he claimed second-team honors in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference with per-game averages of 11.8 points, 3.9 assists and 2.4 rebounds.
Now, it's time for a season of studying.
"We knew this was always a possibility for this year," UAA coach Rusty Osborne said in a press release from the school. "Our program benefitted greatly last season when Travis sacrificed his redshirt year to strengthen our team. It is now time for the program to sacrifice for him.
"He is in a very demanding academic curriculum and will need five years to graduate. The ability to not travel this season will allow him to get a solid foundation for his last two years. He has high academic goals and we support him in those as well as his athletic goals."
A member of last season's GNAC all-academic team with a 3.35 grade-point average, Thompson helped UAA to a 23-7 record and the second-round of the NCAA Division II tournament team. He shot 48 percent from 3-point range and 85 percent from the free throw line.
"We will definitely miss his talent and competitiveness," Osborne said. "However, we had a good recruiting class and we expect someone to step up and excel in his absence."
The Seawolves are a bit deeper at guard this season than last season. The only other two starters back from last season are both guards -- 6-0 Kyle Fossman and 6-3 Colton Lauwers, and Fossman was a GNAC preseason all-conference selection along with Thompson.
Among the team's newcomers are a couple of guards who are also expected to contribute -- 6-4 junior Mike MacKelvie, 6-5 sophomore Teancum Stafford and 6-4 true freshman John Erickson. Stafford is the little brother of former UAA star Rick Stafford.
Another guard, 6-2 sophomore Brian McGill, is also redshirting, Osborne said. NCAA redshirt rules allow Thompson and McGill to practice with the team but forbid them from playing in games.
"What we lose this year we gain in the future as we now have two all-conference level players redshirting," he said. "He and Brian McGill will definitely challenge us day-in and day-out in practice."
Reach Beth Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.