Don Ketchum
Former Staff Writer,

Sammy Barnes-Thompkins always on run for Sunnyslope hoops

June 23, 2014 by Don Ketchum, AZPreps365

What makes Sammy run?

Basketball, pure and simple.

Sammy Barnes-Thompkins is all over the floor for Phoenix Sunnyslope. As the lone senior on the Vikings’ roster in 2014-15, he will need to be.

The 6-foot-3 guard is quick enough to play the point, a good shooter who can play the wing, hit from long range and slash to the basket, and strong enough to mix it up with the big men inside. When he ventures into the paint, he seemingly plays about half a foot taller.

He was on display over the weekend at the eight-team Monarch Sports 4th Annual PrimeTime Tournament at Tempe High. He combined for 60 points in the Vikings’ first two games, against defending Division I champion Tempe Corona del Sol and defending Division II winner Phoenix Shadow Mountain.

“We’ve got a young team and they’re (teammates) learning,’’ Barnes-Thompkins said. “All of us have to be patient.’’

Barnes-Thompkins will have to adjust to not having big and mobile 6-foot-10 Michael Humphrey in the lineup with him. Humphrey will be a freshman at Stanford.

“Yeah, big Mike,’’ Barnes-Thompkins said, somewhat wistfully. “Whenever I was in trouble, I could throw the ball up to the ceiling and he would go get it.’’

The two players developed a strong bond in the summer of 2013 when Barnes-Thompkins joined the program after transferring from Marana Mountain View.

Barnes-Thompkins averaged 22.3 points per game for Sunnyslope and shot 51 percent from the floor, 35 percent from 3-point range and 76 percent from the free-throw line. He also averaged five rebounds.

He recently participated in the Pangos Camp in Long Beach, Calif., and soon will be in Philadelphia for a camp sponsored by Reebok.

There is one firm college offer on the table so far from San Jose State, but word is getting around about Barnes-Thompkins and more college representatives are coming around. He recently has been in contact with Michigan, Indiana, UConn and UCLA.

“I will have to like the location and whether my family can come and see me play,’’ he said. “Education is very important, too. I plan to major in education and minor in criminal justice.’’

He said he has benefitted from working with Sunnyslope coach Ray Portela.

“Coach Portela is a great coach. He helps keep me disciplined,’’ Barnes-Thompkins said. “He trusts me.’’

The designation is something that has been earned over time. It wasn’t just handed to him.

“He has been a good leader for the younger guys,’’ Portela said. “When things are bogging down, he is capable of taking over, but he has to make sure he uses his teammates, keeps them involved. But I certainly don’t want to take away from his talents.

“That’s one of the reasons why we are here in this tournament. It is a challenge for us (the Vikings finished seventh as the No. 8 seed), but we are going to get better. It will pay dividends for us.’’

Barnes-Thompkins works as hard training and keeping in shape as he does playing the game.

“I used to swim a lot,’’ he said. “It got me fit and made me buff.

“I have also hit the weight room pretty hard. I feel all of it helps give me an advantage over the smaller guys and allows me to go inside with the bigger guys.

“You have to try to learn to do as many things as you can out there on the floor. That way, the other team doesn’t know what you’re going to do.’’