Before the start of the NCAA tournament, Oral Roberts was not a household name. Thanks to bracket-busting wins over Ohio State and Florida, the team is now on the radar of sports fans all across the country.
Among the players that have kept the upset training running is Kareem Thompson. Thompson, a former Florence Falcon, played 44 minutes in the Golden Eagles victory over Ohio State. More recently, Thompson played 34 minutes against Florida, scoring nine points and recording three steals on 57% shooting.
But before Thompson was made it to the big dance, he was helping to lead Florence to its best season in program history. That came back in 2019-19 when the team went 29-4.
Head coach Anthony Reid, now in his seventh season at Florence, said that Thompson's work ethic separated him from the crowd.
"A lot of coaches talk about kids' work ethic, but this kid had it," Reid said. "You had to run him out of the gym. Any time he could be in the gym, he was in the gym -- and not just in the gym sitting around, he was in the gym working and so he put the time and effort to get himself where he is today."
Since Thompson left the Shoals, Reid said he has watched the guard come out of his shell and really develop on defense.
Now, with Oral Roberts in the midst of a cinderella run, Reid said Florence is full of ORU fans and he's glad to see all the hard work paying off for his former player.
"He's what's good about athletics, I’m telling you," he said. "A lot of times, kids today are all about 'I', he's about 'we' and I couldn't say enough good things about what he's accomplished and what he did for us at Florence High School."
Oral Roberts' next matchup is against Arkansas in the Sweet 16 on Saturday.