Kansas Jayhawks’ Bryce Thompson Explains How Watching Kobe Bryant Footage Changed Him

Published 03/04/2021, 6:00 AM EST
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant chews on his jersey for a few seconds as he runs downcourt against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


A lot of young players in the NCAA and the NBA have grown up with Kobe Bryant as their idol. Freshman Bryce Thompson is among those players who donned the #24 jersey at the Kansas Jayhawks as a tribute to the Mamba.

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His appreciation for Kobe has led to him playing like his idol on the court, something which many have noticed. During a recent interview, Thompson was asked if he does it on purpose or if it comes naturally to him. “I watched a lot of film on Kobe,” Thompson replied. “The more I watched, the more I naturally just end up doing those things on the court. I think that’s where it stems from.” 

Later he spoke about how assistant coach Jerrance Howard always points it out. “Coach Howard will always remind me and be like, ‘This dude looks like Kobe right here,’” Thompson said. “Just the way I’m standing or bending over or I’ve got my jersey in my mouth or just the little stuff like that.” 

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While other Kobe Bryant fans emulate his scoring, Bryce Thompson is emulating his defense

A lot of players who idolize Kobe lean towards learning from his scoring prowess. But young Thompson is doing his best to emulate him on defense. An underrated aspect of Kobe’s career was his defense, despite him winning 12 All-Defensive honors. He was a lockdown defender and was relentless.

Thompson’s offensive output hasn’t been great so far, but his defensive efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Matched up against arguably the best guard in the country right now in Jared Butler, Thompson kept him at bay and restricted him to just 2-9 from the field. Coach Bill Self believes in his ability, and he knows he can assign such tough matchups to his freshman star.

Thompson is currently their sixth man and his impact goes beyond his numbers. When he is in the rotation, the Jayhawks have gone 14-2, compared to their dismal 5-6 record in his absence. There are obviously other factors too, but his impact is one of the most important among them.

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Bryce Thompson: 𝐆𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐫 😤 pic.twitter.com/XFdU2Jp7s3

— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) March 4, 2021

There is no clarity whether he will declare at the end of the season, but if he leaves, any team drafting him will have a promising combo guard who is a two-way threat.

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Aaron Mathew

1478 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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