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Ex-NU star Thompson loving Germany

12/2/2011

Michael "Juice" Thompson lives in a mall in Germany.

"It sounds strange to everybody at home when I tell them, but it's really nice," the former Northwestern star said from Frankfurt.

Thompson walks out his door, and he has restaurants and shops at his disposable. His team, the Fraport Skyliners, also has its practice facility connected to the mall, so he has no complaints.

"I really love living here," Thompson said.

Thompson's first taste of professional basketball has been a good one. He's enjoyed Germany and its culture. He's been paid on time. On the court, he's had to earn his minutes, and he's gotten more of an opportunity with time.

"I was just excited to have a job," Thompson said. "I was going in with the mindset whatever role the team needs me to play, I'm going to go in and do the best I can.

"It's been a long time since I came off the bench. I thought I did a good job preparing myself. Now, I'm a small fish in a big pond. Things aren't going to be what they used to be. I'm just embracing that I'm a professional athlete trying to learn the ins and outs of it as I did at Northwestern as a freshman."

Northwestern associate head coach Tavaras Hardy keeps in touch with Thompson, and Hardy knows it hasn't been always easy for him the last few months.

"He's going to take some bumps and bruises," Hardy said. "It's different when you play for a good team in a good league. You're not going to be the man right away. You got to work through it. He'll eventually find his sweet spot there."

Thompson came off the bench early in the season, but he has since jumped into a starting role after former Wake Forest star Justin Gray went down with an injury. Thompson's numbers have fluctuated, but he recently had a game of 14 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Thompson has been busy with his new life, but he still finds time to watch almost all of Northwestern's games. While in Russia for a game earlier this week, he was up until 6:30 a.m. watching Northwestern beat Georgia Tech.

"I'm going to be a Northwestern Wildcat for life," Thompson said. "I played there for four years. I wish I could play there the rest of my life."