MESKWAKI SETTLEMENT - Once she's back to full speed, Tiana Thompson wants hit the court running.
Joining a fast-paced Des Moines Area Community College attack, the Meskwaki standout senior guard has the opportunity to do exactly that.
Thompson, a 2012-13 Iowa Star Conference elite team selection, signed her letter of intent Wednesday to continue her basketball career with the Bears - a squad that brings back 10 members from last year's 24-8 campaign.
Meskwaki’s Tiana Thompson, seated center, shakes the hand of Steve Krafcisin, head womens’ basketball coach at Des Moines Area Community College, after signing a letter of intent last Wednesday to play basketball at DMACC. Thompson’s signing drew a large crowd of the Meskwaki Settlement’s student body. Seated, from left, are Thompson’s parents, Galen Thompson and Kim Ward, Thompson, Krafcisin, Meskwaki head coach Heath Brown and Meskwaki assistant coach Steadman Brown. Standing is Meskwaki High School Principal Jill Herink.
Though she's currently recovering from a right ACL tear sustained in the final game of the Warriors' season, the three-time Iowa Star Conference all-South Division honoree expects to be up and running at a her preferred pace for the start of the season.
"I want to continue to play fast," said Thompson, who also considered Ellsworth, Marshalltown CC and Kirkwood during her search. "I just felt more comfortable with DMACC and it felt like the right place to go."
Bears coach Steve Krafcisin had a similar epiphany on where to focus for his next recruit after seeing the Warrior star for the first time two seasons ago in Traer.
Scouting North Tama's Kailey Kladivo at the time, Krafcisin noticed a player on the opposing team that seemed optimal for his.
"From the first time I saw (Tiana), I thought it was a perfect fit if we could get her here," said Krafcisin. "She fits right in with what we're trying to do and the way we want to play is perfect for her."
Leading the Iowa Star Conference in assists (138) and finishing sixth in scoring (12.8 ppg), Thompson also displayed her versatility with 56 steals and 20 blocks, though it was her drive and off the court demeanor that equally impressed Krafcisin.
"You have to have a passion to play college basketball and you can see that right away with Tiana - she wants to play," the eight-year Bears coach said. "She wants to be the best person she can be. The way she handles herself on and off the floor - she's going to be a really good fit with our team."
Playing an integral role on a Warrior squad that reached a school-best mark of 20-5, Thompson joins a successful Bears bunch that finished 15th in the final NJCAA Division II rankings and second in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference with a 12-4 record.
While DMACC enters the 2013-14 campaign with nearly its entire roster intact, Krafcisin sees immediate areas where Thompson can contribute.
"We weren't a great outside shooting team and we weren't as talented at the point on a consistent basis. Tiana brings all of that," said the former Iowa State men's basketball assistant coach, who believes Thompson could play up to three different positions. "The 1 or 2 or 3 - it doesn't matter, we just want to get her out on the floor. I see her fitting in really well and competing for a lot of playing time."
Thompson, who also had 85 rebounds and converted 30 3-pointers in her senior season, is eager to assist wherever she can.
"I want to be a passer, a point guard and just help out the team," said Thompson, who has already seen some early progress in her injury after undergoing surgery in early March. "It's doing pretty well, I'm surprised."
Just as Thompson is hopeful for a speedy recovery, Krafcisin is excited to see how his incoming fleet-footed freshman can impact the squad.
"We're an up-tempo team," said Krafcisin. "We want to go, we want to press and she's right up the alley of what we want to try to do."