Women’s hoops announces signee

Lonnika (pronounced lon-KNEE-kuh) Thompson, a talented point guard from New Orleans, officially announced her intentions to continue her collegiate basketball and academic career at the University of Florida, Gator head coach Amanda Butler announced Wednesday.

Thompson recently completed her freshman season at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas, and will be eligible beginning in the 2007-08 season. Thompson graduated from McDonogh 35 High School in 2006 after helping the Roneagles basketball team to the Louisiana state 5A championship game her senior year. Her prep career, however, was anything but usual, as Thompson and her family were forced to evacuate New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina.

After spending her sophomore and junior years at McDonogh 35, Thompson relocated and spent the first few months of her senior season at Jonesboro High School near Atlanta, Ga. She played for the Lady Cardinals hoops team until she was able to return home to New Orleans in February of 2006 to complete her prep playing career and earn her diploma from McDonogh 35.

An academic qualifier out of high school, Thompson’s unusual circumstances during her prep career led her to TVCC, where she was recruited to replace Shannon Bobbitt, who left and became the starting point guard for Tennessee’s 2007 national championship team.

“The University of Florida is totally committed to winning championships and that’s what I want to do,” Thompson said. “It is an exciting place to be and I’m excited about being a Gator. I really liked Coach Butler and the coaching staff, they were funny and focused. I want to be a part of where they will take the program.”

“We are extremely fortunate that someone as talented as Lonnika was still available this late in the recruiting process and that we were able to attract her to Florida,” Butler said. “She is a great floor leader and ball-handler and will help us immediately. Trinity Valley is consistently one of the best junior college programs in the country and Lonnika experienced that high level of competition. Her experience there will translate into her running an offense in the best Division I conference in the country.”

Thompson averaged 12 points and 6.2 assists per game at TVCC, helping the Lady Cardinals win their sixth consecutive Region XIV Conference championship. She earned a place on the 2007 Women’s All-Region XIV and All-Conference teams after helping TVCC finish the season with a 24-7 overall record, including a 15-3 mark in conference play. Despite being hampered with an ankle injury, Thompson still managed seven points along with eight assists in TVCC’s final game, a 63-60 loss to Blinn College in the regional semifinal.