Former Ball State basketball player Chandler Thompson is known for a put-back dunk against UNLV in Ball State’s last NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in 1990. Chandler Thompson now coaches his son, Josh, at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis. Chandler Thompson // Photo provided
For the Record: Former Ball State basketball player reflects on coaching son
Editor's note: "For the Record" is a weekly series featuring former stand-out Ball State athletes and their lives after college.
Ball State men’s basketball point guard Josh Thompson’s Twitter mentions are filled with one 28-second video clip.
Years played: 1989-1992
“Look at Josh’s dad,” and “Sheesh Coach Thompson,” said some of the tweets. The video shows Josh’s father and former Ball State basketball player Chandler Thompson soaring through the air for a put-back dunk against UNLV in Ball State’s last NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in 1990.
“I wasn’t thinking, it was just something that happened natural,” Chandler said.
Sheeesh!!!! ok Coach Thompson https://t.co/QWJR8It0o2— Sasquatch (@Hawtheezus) March 24, 2017
March 23 marked 27 years to the day of the dunk that Chandler said “put him on the map,” and now it’s Josh’s turn to carry on the family name that is so well known in Ball State basketball — and he learned everything he knows from his dad.
Chandler, a stand out basketball star at Muncie Central High School who helped the Bearcats win their last state championship in 1988, is no stranger to Indiana basketball. For the past seven years he's coached boys' basketball at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis. After five years as the freshmen coach and seven years as the varsity assistant coach, Chandler had the opportunity — and the challenge — of coaching his son.
"Everyone said it was easy, but there was two hats that I had to wear,” Chandler said. “I had to wear the daddy hat and I had to wear the coach hat."
Chandler said it was sometimes difficult for Josh to figure out which hat Chandler was wearing.
"It's kind of hard for daddy, telling him what to do in front of his peers, even though I'm coaching him and I'm trying to tell him the right things," Chandler said. "When I say something to him it's kind of like 'well why are you always getting on me,' well this is coach, it's not daddy."
As a senior, Josh and Chandler's Lawrence North team defeated Lawrence Central to win the sectional championship.
While they sometimes butted heads, Josh said he loved being coached by his dad.
“Being in high school, it was tough," Josh said. "It had its good days and bad days."
Josh said his dad would get on him about a bad practice, but if he had a good practice he would encourage him and tell him what he did right. But there's no avoiding the fact that basketball comes home with them.
"I heard about it once I left practice, in the car, I hear about it all the way until we get home and then when we get home too," Josh said. "I actually miss those days too, though."
Josh always wanted to play college basketball, so after high school he enrolled in Midwest Elite Preparatory Academy to improve his chances at a Division-I scholarship. But the school shut down and the scouts stopped coming.
He had offers to play NAIA basketball, but he turned them down. Both of Josh's parents went to Ball State, and with his dad's connections walking on seemed like a good fit.
"It's not like he wanted to follow in my footsteps," Chandler said. "He wants to make his own name, but he also wants to be able to say, 'I was able to do a few things like my dad.'"
Josh said being a walk-on isn't easy and you don't always get rewarded for hard work.
"He [Chandler] always told me it's not easy if nobody is doing it," Josh said. "I feel like if I go through this I could probably go through anything.”
Basketball isn't the only thing Josh and Chandler have in common; Josh said everybody says the two act just alike.
"We're goofy and serious," Josh said. "Just everything I do I get from him."
Despite Chandler's involvement with Josh's basketball career, Josh said he doesn't feel any pressure.
"If I felt pressure, I would feel the pressure from him," Josh said. "He knows what I'm capable of and I just got to work for it.”
While the 27th anniversary of Chandler's memorable dunk just passed, it isn't out of the ordinary for Josh to hear about it from his peers. He said he hears about it every day.
Chandler attends most of Josh's games, as long as there's not a conflict with his Lawrence North games. Though it wasn't easy, Josh said he misses being coached by his dad.
“He's my No. 1 supporter and my No. 1 critic," Josh said. "I got the best of both worlds. I wouldn’t ask for it any other way.”