- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 16, 2011

ATLANTA (AP) - Trey Thompkins is savoring his first chance to play in the NCAA tournament.

Fulfilling his postseason dream was the reason he returned for his junior season at Georgia.

Georgia finished 12-20 and 14-17 in Thompkins’ first two seasons. To some, it may have sounded overly optimistic when he said last April he would remain in school because he believed the Bulldogs could make this year’s NCAA tournament.

Thompkins said he feels good about his decision.


Georgia (21-11) is the No. 10 seed in the East Regional and will play No. 7 seed Washington on Friday night in Charlotte, N.C.

It has been a rocky season for Thompkins. He missed the first three games with a severe ankle sprain. He also has had shin and toe injuries.

Along the way, his scoring and rebounding averages dipped slightly. He was an Associated Press first-team All-SEC selection last year, when he averaged 17.7 points and 8.3 rebounds. He was selected as a second-team All-SEC pick on Monday with averages of 16.1 points and 7.5 rebounds.

No matter. Thompkins said finally being in the NCAA field makes up for it all.

“Knowing that I came back to school for this reason and it’s going to be carried out makes me feel so much better about the decision I made,” he said.

Thompkins said the added bonus to the NCAA bid was the chance to play in Charlotte, only a few hours from Athens.

“They could have sent us somewhere crazy,” Thompkins said. “I’m happy to be in Charlotte so the Bulldog Nation can be there and cheer us on.”

Thompkins (6 feet 10, 245 pounds) is a difficult matchup, thanks to his ability to score inside and with long jumpers.

The leg injuries hurt his 3-point shooting for most of the season, but he said that he is healthy for the postseason.

Thompkins made three of five 3-pointers while leading Georgia with 22 points and 10 rebounds in a Southeastern Conference tournament win over Auburn. He made 8 of 10 shots from the field and had 19 points in Georgia’s overtime loss to Alabama in the SEC quarterfinals.

Coach Mark Fox likes Georgia’s balance. Travis Leslie (14.5) and Gerald Robinson (12.2) also have scoring averages in double figures. Every starter, including forward Jeremy Price (6-8, 270) and shooting guard Dustin Ware, has had 20-point games.

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