Next Gen: Jett Thompson eager to help Bulls take flight in 2022

EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls guard Jett Thompson gave fans a glimpse of what he can bring to the court in 2021 and he plans to make waves again when the Sal’s NBL season tips off on April 28.

The 19-year-old Thompson compiled averages of 4.7 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists on 42.9 percent shooting from the field in his first full season in the Sal’s NBL. He made 16 appearances for the Bulls and managed to reach double digit scoring totals in five games.

One of Thompson’s best outings of the season came against the eventual 2022 champions - the Wellington Saints – when he dropped 11 points, six rebounds and three assists on 4-of-5 shooting from the field (2-of-2 from three). A slew of injuries pushed Thompson into the starting line-up for 10 of his 16 games last season; as a starter he averaged 6.5 points and 2.0 assists per game.

Jett is an Auckland local who attended Westlake Boys High School and has represented Harbour Basketball on a regional level. He has also played for the New Zealand Under 15 team.

Thompson said he relished the opportunity provided to him in his first full season in the Sal’s NBL.

“I really enjoyed last season and felt like the Bulls gave me a great opportunity to grow as a player, both on and off the court,” said Thompson.

“The transition from high school is quite a big jump, as you’re playing grown men who are physically bigger but also mentally, they have years of experience in the Sal’s NBL and other leagues. There was a lot to learn quite quickly, but I was well-equipped with a good pre-season and lots of good veterans showing me the ropes.”

Bulls head coach Morgan Maskell and the rest of the coaching staff have been a tremendous help to date, explained Thompson.

“The Bulls’ staff have really invested in me, firstly with the opportunity they gave me last year and again this year with them bringing me back. The coaching staff make themselves available all year around and it’s great.

“Coach Morgan [Maskell] helped me a lot last year, watching film and breaking down my games. We would look over what I did well and what mistakes I made so we could fine tune them as the season progressed. Most of my feedback last year was to be more consistent and to keep it simple on the court, as I would sometimes find myself going for difficult passes to look flashy and it would lead to turnovers; finding that balance is going to be key.”

Maskell praised Thompson's high basketball IQ and says that it helped him a lot when injuries led to extra playing time.

"Jett was lucky enough to be a beneficiary of injuries last season. He has a very high ceiling so he got the callup into the starting lineup. He made a lot of mistakes, but that's all part of the process and he's going to be so much better this season for having been thrown in the deep end like that last year.

"He's in the best shape of his life, he's worked really hard in the off-season and he's only just turned 19 years old. He's a big guard with a high basketball IQ that works really hard at learning at the game and on his body in the gym and on his skills on the court. His potential is very high, he's incredibly underrated," said Maskell.

Thompson mentioned physicality as one of the biggest differences between high school basketball and the Sal’s NBL.

“I expected the pace and physicality to be quite a step up from high school, so I wouldn’t say it caught me off guard, but it definitely still takes a while to get used to. Luckily, I’ve been working with Logan Botica and Chris Johns for a while now and they help me get my body physically ready.”

Being in good physical shape will help Thompson guard the likes of Tall Black Dion Prewster, who he highlighted as one of the toughest players he had to guard in 2021.

“Dion Prewster was really tough to guard, he’s just so smart and strong and knows how to get to his spots. He’s a complete point guard that will do whatever it takes to win, plus he’s a great defender so you’re constantly thinking about him when you’re on the court,” said Thompson.

While he wants to improve his game across the board, Thompson said improving his shooting is one of the main focuses this season.

“I like to play fast and create shots for my teammates – that’s what I do best. I like picking up full court on defence and just being a pest in general,” he said.

“I want to continue to be a consistent point guard that takes care of the ball, but the main thing would be shooting as I didn’t shoot too well last season. I’ve spent a lot of time during the offseason working on my shot.

The EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls open their season against the Taylor Hawke’s Bay Hawks on May 1 in Napier.


Check out Jett Thompson's 2021 Sal's NBL highlights:


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