Troy Andersen, Fallyn Freije, Harald Frey, Allyssa Rizzo… these are some of the current notable Bobcat athletes we have come to know, but this past Saturday, Feb. 22, fans were introduced to the top athlete on campus, Joe Thompson. The Billings Central product was an under-the-radar recruit coming out of high school, as he played soccer instead of basketball.
“I’m gonna take @haraldfrey5 off scholarship and give it to @UrBrotherJoe (Joe’s account), he has more range than anyone we have! @UrBrotherJoe is shooting 50% from 94 ft this season. And can shoot under pressure! His 1 handed side hook is the most dangerous shot since Kareem,” tweeted men’s basketball Head Coach Danny Sprinkle.
Thompson isn’t your average Joe. When not sinking 94 foot shots to win $11,111, he’s busy balancing his life as a senior film student, employee of Montana PBS and background actor. With the help of actor dad, Joe had the opportunity to fulfill roles in films featured at theaters in New York, Chicago and Houston. On Monday, Feb. 24, while Thompson was preparing to pitch his senior thesis, he participated in eight interviews with both local and national media outlets.
When we sat down with Joe on Tuesday afternoon to chat, he was just happy to have a minute to breathe and enjoy a meal. “Yesterday I woke up at 3 a.m., had some coffee, had two street tacos and then went to bed a little after 11 p.m.”
Our campus's top athlete is also one of its top personalities. His character came across while he was interviewed on the Pat McAfee Show, a highly popular sports radio show hosted by former Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee. His likeness and humor prompted McAfee to offer Joe a chance to visit the studios in Indianapolis, Indiana over spring break for a chance at a full-time position.
The iconic video of the full-court shot has now garnered over 3 million total views online and made its way on every major national sports media site. Joe did the student body a favor by putting our campus in front of a national sports audience. The marketing potential was extremely high, having made the shot during the biggest game of the year.
McAfee clearly demonstrated this in the interview, saying, “To be completely honest, I knew of the Montana Grizzlies....I had no idea there was a Montana State until this man, Joe Thompson, wearing jeans and a tucked in T-shirt, this film production major, put your university on the map like no human in the history of Bobcat Montana State basketball! He should be on scholarship!”
While it’s apparent Joe has benefited personally from this situation, his selflessness is also apparent. Thompson has had swarms of people reaching out to him. This shot put a spotlight on him that some people may not appreciate, but Joe has a plan.
“The more interviews I do, the more publicity and press I will get,” said Thompson. “When it comes time for the charity event, that’ll mean more businesses will want to donate and participate.”
The charity event Joe is planning is a shoot-a-thon where local businesses can pledge to donate a certain amount of money based on the number of three-pointers Joe can make in 60 seconds. This money will go toward purchasing new gym equipment for small-town Montana communities.
“I have a friend who teaches in Lincoln, MT and they have zero budget, so she has to use equipment that’s over fifteen years old,” said Thompson. “We have an opportunity to do something great for Montana...and Montana is on the map so that’s fun.”
Joe is a stud on the court, the film set and in the community. He’s represented Bobcat nation proudly on the national stage. He showed out for us, his peers, and now it’s time for us to support him. He will soon be putting on his charity event, and the MSU campus should make sure it is as successful as possible. Montana State’s top athlete’s impact is far from over. Our state has the opportunity to not just enjoy the pure entertainment of the miracle shot but also its impact on our local communities.
Follow @UrBrotherJoe on Instagram and Twitter for more information regarding the upcoming charity event.