The former NBA Draft lottery pick of the Sacramento Kings guest-anchored the sports report for News10 at 6 for KXTV of Sacramento, the market’s local ABC affiliate, on November 14.
Sean Ramsden

Unusually athletic for his size, Jason Thompson drives around a Philadelphia 76er defender during his rookie year.

When Jason Thompson ’08 showed up on the campus of Rider University in the fall of 2004, he had every intention of graduating in four years before putting his skills on display for a major sports network. “His first goal was to be on ESPN – not as a player, but as a SportsCenter anchor,” said his mother, Sharyn Thompson. “He obviously wanted to play basketball at Rider, but he really came to take communications classes and be an anchor.”

Like so many of his classmates, however, Thompson’s career plans changed during his time at the University. Yes, he still graduated in four years. Yes, he earned a degree in Communication, just like he said he would. In fact, he even got a great job a month after Commencement – one that’ll allow him still to be a regular on ESPN.

The 6-foot-11, 250-pound forward from Mount Laurel, N.J., became the 12th player selected in the first round of the 2008 National Basketball Association draft by the Sacramento Kings. Now in his fifth season in the league, the 26-year-old Thompson has averaged a solid 10.4 points per game for his career, while grabbing 7.2 rebounds per contest.  

On November 14, however, Thompson got a chance to live out his original career ambition when he guest-anchored the sports report for News10 at 6 for KXTV of Sacramento, the market’s local ABC affiliate. For his initial shift, Thompson helped write, edit and product the entire 6 p.m. sportscast, in which he reported on the American and National League Cy Young Award winners, which were announced earlier in the day. Thompson’s guest spot was part of a new partnership between the Kings and the station, which will air 10 select Kings games this season, beginning Sunday, November 18, against the Brooklyn Nets.

It’s no surprise that Thompson never lost sight of his goal of graduating from Rider. His parents, Sharyn and Chuck Thompson, let it be known to Jason that education was his first priority once he got to Lawrenceville.

“When he first got to Rider, we knew he was good enough to play,” said Chuck. “But we made sure he understood he had to get his degree.”

Sharyn agreed. “Jason wanted to play in college, but he understood there was no such degree as ‘basketball,’” she said.

Thompson kept his focus, knowing that if he was to remain a part of the Broncs’ program for four years, he would have to balance the backboard with the blackboard. “Academics were my main focus,” he said. “Yeah, I was there on a basketball scholarship, so that was important, but I came there to go to school first.”

Watch Thompson’s on-camera studio debut at the link provided.