CORVALLIS, Ore. – Stephen Thompson, who was the head basketball coach at Cal State-Los Angeles the past nine seasons and went to the NCAA Tournament four times during his playing days at Syracuse, will join the Oregon State men’s basketball program as an assistant coach, Wayne Tinkle announced Thursday.
“We are really excited to be adding Coach Thompson to the staff,” Tinkle said. “He’s another guy who played at a high level and has coached at a high level. He has an unbelievable reputation in Southern California. I think there isn’t as much focus on his ability to coach. He’s really good on the floor working out the players. He brings credibility because of his background at Syracuse and at the professional levels. He’s another very high character guy with great energy and a lot of good recruiting contacts. We are very enthusiastic about the staff we’ve been able to assemble here at Oregon State, and we are excited to get it all together and get to work.”
Thompson, 45, is known as one of the best college basketball players in Syracuse University history. After playing professionally in the NBA, CBA, ABA and overseas, he was an assistant coach at Cal State L.A. for three years before taking over the program as the head coach in 2005.
“It is a great opportunity to join the Oregon State basketball staff,” Thompson said. “Working for Coach Tinkle, who is a great coach and human being will be an honor. I look forward to assisting Coach Tinkle as he leads Oregon State men’s basketball to the top of the Pac-12.”
Thompson went 126-120 in his nine years as the head coach at Cal State L.A. and his teams regularly ranked at or near the top of Division II in scoring defense and field-goal percentage defense each season. He led the Golden Eagles to the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship Tournament five consecutive years from 2010-14 and his teams had a winning record in each of his final four seasons.
His best campaign at Cal State L.A. came in 2011-12 when Thompson directed the Golden Eagles to a 17-10 overall record and 13-9 mark in California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play, its best conference record since 2001. The team went 16-11 overall in 2012-13, and matched its CCAA record from the previous season at 13-9, and 15-12 overall in his final season.
Cal State L.A. won its first-ever conference tournament game when it beat Cal State San Bernardino, 66-60, in San Bernardino in 2011 and finished the 2010-11 season with a 15-13 record after posting a 14-14 mark in 2009-10.
Thompson had his first winning season in 2007-08 when he led the Golden Eagles to a 17-11 overall record and a tie for third in the CCAA. Cal State L.A. finished that season ranked ninth in the NCAA Division II West Regional and made its first appearance in a regional poll since 2000. The 17 wins were the most for the Golden Eagles since the 1999-2000 season and the third-place finish in the conference was the best since finishing second in 2000.
In his first season as the head coach, the Golden Eagles had one of the biggest turnaround in NCAA Division II basketball by improving nine games overall from the previous year. The team swept local rival Cal State Dominguez Hills and upset Cal State Bakersfield to highlight a 10-17 season.
Thompson began his coaching career in 2002 when he joined the Cal State L.A. staff in 2002. After three years as an assistant he was promoted to head coach in March 2005 following the retirement of Dave Yanai.
A native of Los Angeles, Calif., and a Crenshaw High School graduate, Thompson had his No. 32 jersey retired at the school. He went to Syracuse University and became a three-year starter on the Orangemen basketball team while earning All-America honors in 1989 and 1990 and being named the Big East Conference’s Men’s Basketball Scholar Athlete of the Year in 1990.
During his four years at Syracuse, the Orangemen went 113-31 overall, won Big East titles in 1987 and 1990, made four NCAA Tournament appearances, including three trips to the Sweet 16, and reached the 1987 NCAA Championship Game against Indiana.
Thompson is second all-time at Syracuse with 144 games played and seventh in scoring with 1,956 points. He still owns the second-best career shooting mark in NCAA Tournament history at 68.4 percent in 15 games, trailing only UCLA’s Bill Walton who had a 68.6 percent clip in 12 games.
After graduating from Syracuse in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, Thompson had stints with the NBA's Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings and Denver Nuggets. He also played in Europe, Japan, the CBA and the ABA.
Before joining the Cal State L.A. coaching staff in 2002, Thompson served as Athletic Director for the Coast Christian School in Redondo Beach. He was also a Co-Founder and Director of Give & Go Basketball Academy and a coach for the Southern California All-Stars.
Thompson was born on Dec. 2, 1968 in Los Angeles, Calif. He and his wife, Amy, have two sons, Stephen Jr. and Ethan.
THE STEPHEN THOMPSON FILE
Born: December 2, 1968 (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Family: wife - Amy; sons - Stephen Jr. and Ethan
B.S., Marketing, Syracuse, 1990
2002-05 -- Cal State-Los Angeles, Assistant Coach
2005-14 -- Cal State-Los Angeles, Head Coach
1986-90 -- Syracuse University