One of the great names in Ball State men’s basketball history has returned home to Muncie.
Chandler Thompson, who lettered three years at Ball State and played on the Cardinals’ NCAA Sweet 16 team in 1990, was recently named head coach at Muncie Central High School.
Mr. Thompson, a Muncie native, will be coaching at his alma mater. He starred at Muncie Central, leading the Bearcats to a 28-1 record and an Indiana state championship as a senior in 1988.
After playing professional basketball overseas, Mr. Thompson served as an assistant coach for 11 seasons at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis. Muncie Central will be his first head coaching job.
“People ask me if I feel any pressure coming back home, but as a basketball player and a coach, I look forward to the pressure,” Mr. Thompson said. “Feeling pressure and dealing with pressure is what makes champions.”
At Ball State, Mr. Thompson had a championship-caliber career. He lettered three years for the Cardinals and ranks 21st in school history in both points scored (1,219) and rebounds (534).
Mr. Thompson also provided one of Ball State athletics most memorable moments — one, he says, that “put him on the map.”
For Ball State men’s basketball fans, as well as thousands of others who’ve seen it, it’s known simply as “The Dunk.” In fact, it was a legendary putback dunk by Mr. Thompson in the 12th-seeded Cardinals’ near upset of eventual national champions University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) in the 1990 NCAA National tournament.
Mr. Thompson was named to the NCAA All-West Regional team that year after leading Ball State in scoring in all three of its tournament games. He helped the Cardinals advance to the Sweet 16 with wins over Oregon State and Louisville, before scoring a game-high 21 points in the narrow 69-67 loss to UNLV.
For a fun trip down Ball State basketball memory lane, just search for “Chandler Thompson Dunk” on YouTube. Then you’ll see why one of America’s most honored sportscasters, Brent Musburger, was moved to exclaim: “Oh my! Chandler Thompson, how do you do!”
A philosophy of coaching
Though Mr. Thompson enjoys discussing his past glory, his thoughts are firmly based on the present and his new role at Muncie Central. “We are excited to have Chandler as our head boys’ basketball coach,” said Muncie Central Athletic Director Tom Lyon. “I think our kids will respond very well to a coach that has a state championship banner in our gym.”
Mr. Thompson remembers the personal interest his coaches took in him during his time at Ball State, a philosophy he’ll bring to his new job at Muncie Central.
“I knew my coaches at Ball State cared about me beyond basketball, and that’s something I will bring to my new job as well,” he said. “We will always focus on life situations and how to handle the ups, as well as the downs. For me, that’s just the way I will operate.”
Mr. Thompson’s son, Josh, is a sophomore at Ball State and current member of men’s basketball team. His daughter, Peyton, is a freshman at Ball State.