by Théoden K. Janes
Arizona Daily Wildcat


That's how many points NBA star Charles Barkley said he would like to be spotted if he were to play Arizona women's basketball player Janelle Thompson in a game of one-on-one.

It's quite a boost to one's ego to hear this from Barkley, who is the Phoenix Suns' leading scorer and eight-time all-star, especially because he has been a role model for the 22-year-old Thompson since she was in high school.

She's much younger than I am, you know," the 31-year-old Barkley said to explain the need for a handicap.

Thompson laughed upon hearing Barkley's remark.

level, but my body feels it, so I don't think I could spot him 10."

Unfortunately, a Barkley-Thompson showdown is extremely

The only time in recent memory that an NBA-caliber player and a women's college player have gone head-to-head was when Michael Jordan played Texas Tech graduate Cheryl Swoopes on national television last year.

But that doesn't mean Thompson is incapable of holding her own against Barkley.

The 5-foot-11 senior power forward is aver-aging 13.3 points and 6.4 rebounds in Pacific 10 Conference games this season and has had her share of big moments on the basketball court during her career at the UA.

Off the court, however, there are two particular moments for her that stand apart from the rest.

The first came on Dec. 28, 1992. Thompson was at McKale Center to watch LaSalle play in the men's Fiesta Bowl Classic and coincidentally, so was Barkley.

Thompson was waiting for an elevator to take her down when the doors slid open, leaving her face to face with her longtime hero.

And then last year, she approached Barkley as the Suns were coming out of the locker room after halftime of a game at America West Arena in Phoenix.

In both instances, Barkley took time to talk with her and to take pictures with her.

The first time, I felt stupid, I was just sitting there staring the whole time _ I couldn't believe it," Thompson said. "The second time, we talked more about coach-to-player relationships, because last year my minutes weren't coming and all I kept hearing was 'Janelle, you're not working hard enough.'

So I asked him, (and he said), 'If your coach doesn't think you're working, then maybe you aren't.' So I came back and practiced hard and then, just this summer, I got it

Thompson is more than just a fan of Sir Charles. Aside from having a Barkley-esque "old" body, she tries to emulate his style, both on and off the court.

"Everyone wants to jump on Michael Jordan's bandwagon," UA assistant coach Clemette Haskins said, "but she just talks about Barkley, you know, how he just works hard and the way that he gets no respect."

Thompson has been modeling herself after Barkley since her playing days at Santa Barbara (Calif.) High School.

"What drew me to him is just the power he possessed," Thompson said, "not so much physically, but it's just an aura he had, you know what I mean? That type of 'no-fear'

"(It's like me), my thing is if you don't try to take advantage of me, I'm gonna try to take advantage of you."

Although he has only met her twice, Barkley was happy to talk about her from the Suns' locker room last Friday, a short time before taking to the court against the Los Angeles

"It's a compliment, and there aren't too many women who want to play like me," Barkley said chuckling. "It must be tough on her coaches and her opponents."

The opponents are the ones who have been feeling the brunt of her toughness, however.

Thompson had 17 points and four rebounds last Sunday against the Southern Cal frontline of Jualeah Woods (6-0), Tina Thompson (6-3) and Lisa Leslie (6-5).

On Feb. 12, she had 18 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, three steals and a blocked shot in an 84-70 win over

"She's cut out of the same mold as Barkley," Haskins said. "And people say the same things about Janelle that they say about Barkley, you know, 'not tall enough,' 'not big enough to play inside,' but everyone is always amazed at what she can do (with her size)."

Sadly, Thompson has only five games left as a Wildcat, yet she still refuses to evaluate a career that has spanned over 100 games and several different countries.

"I don't feel satisfied," Thompson said of her career. "And after these five games I may be able to say 'yeah' _ five games is a lot of games _ but if I was satisfied now then I may as well not even play these games coming up."

And what if she runs into Barkley again?

"Whatever would I say to him?" Thompson said. "Maybe, 'How 'bout that game?' I'd have to explain to him why I can't spot him 10 points, but we could play, we could play."

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