D.J. Thorpe is entering his senior year at Lake Travis High (home of the Cavaliers) in Austin, Texas. He has committed to the California Golden Bears men’s basketball program for the 2019-20 season. The 6’8” power forward has shown that he can score at will inside at the high school level. Aside from playing for Lake Travis, Thorpe has also been a standout for T.J. Ford Basketball. Ford was an outstanding point guard for the University of Texas prior to playing for four NBA teams.
Sometimes Thorpe catches and shoots near the basket in one motion to discourage the defense. An array of spin moves can defeat double and even triple teams in the paint. He also keeps defenders honest with a fairly reliable 16-foot jumper. Layups and dunks are commonplace with his combination of strength and quickness.
Thorpe displays strong spatial awareness near the rim, allowing him to contort himself around defenders and find unusual, effective shot angles. He nimbly employs a running hook shot and even when he misses is capable of scoring on the put-back. Thorpe is also comfortable traveling under the hoop. I find his willingness to do so similar to a hockey player who isn’t afraid to go for the wraparound. In this case, Thorpe doesn’t settle for a possibly contested shot and is rewarded with the uncontested bucket on the other side of the rim.
At 1:20 of the above video clip, Thorpe gets involved with some nice pick and roll action and ends up with an even easier hoop than usual. Notice how #10 on the opposing team is getting frustrated with defending him.
Thorpe will provide some much-needed size when he arrives on campus. He is also the son of former NBA forward Otis Thorpe. The elder Thorpe averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds in his professional career which included winning the 1994 title with Houston. D.J. clearly values the relationship with his famous father: “He’s the first person I talk to after every game.”
Thorpe gained fame in the Austin area for breaking the rim while slamming a ball home during practice. According to D.J.: “It was a just a normal dunk. I asked my dad after, and he said he can’t remember doing that ever.” According to local newscasts, Texas A&M, TCU, and Virginia all showed interest in signing him but Thorpe ultimately decided on Cal. He is listed as a three-star prospect, but his stock appears to be rising among high school sports observers in Texas.
As you would expect, Thorpe has gotten more responsibility over time from head coach Clint Baty. Thorpe scored 5 points per game as a freshman while playing 16 minutes per contest. As a sophomore that rose to 22 minutes to go with 9 points, 4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks. In 2017-18, he approached a double double nightly, surging to averages of 13.5 points and 9.5 boards. As Baty put it: “He’s got a grown man’s body right now, that’s for sure.”
Thorpe’s junior year coincided with Lake Travis reaching its first ever Class 6A regional final. Humorously, the Cavaliers’ website refers to D.J. using his official name Daniel. No matter what you call him, Thorpe’s senior year could well be a prelude to meaningful minutes at Haas Pavilion in 2019-20.