Chanclas’ smallest player earns a major-college ticket to Texas A&M

In 2019, Jordan Thompson hit .310 in 25 games as a freshman at the University of the Incarnate Word. Notably, he belted a three-run homer to lead UIW’s 6-5 victory at Texas A&M – Photo, courtesy of UIW athletics.

Competing to win a starting job in the outfield for the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio, Jordan Thompson paused Friday night to discuss what the fans might expect when a 30-game Texas Collegiate League season starts next week.

“I think we’re going to be really good,” Thompson said. “I know it’s only been a couple of days, but after what I’ve seen from the pitchers and the hitters (this week), our team looks really, really good. I know that our pitchers are going to be throwing a lot of strikes … and I know that our hitters are going to be more than ready.”

From all indications, Thompson could play a major role despite his physical stature (5-feet-9, 165 pounds) as the smallest player on the squad. He is coming off a spring in which he hit .435 for Grayson College, earning an offer to play next season at Texas A&M.

“I think this summer’s really going to help me develop as a player, because of our coaching staff,” Thompson said. “They’ve had so much experience at the professional level. It just gives me an opportunity to pick their brains and learn what I have to do to better myself, to (reach) the next level.

“And our team, it just has a lot of talent on it. (I want to) just pick their brains, too. Because there’s obviously a reason where they are. You can always learn a lot of things from a lot of people, different perspectives. It’ll just be really good getting that from everyone else.”

In 2018, as a senior at Boerne Champion, Thompson hit .548 and earned first-team, all-state honors in Class 5A.

Judged as too small by some major college recruiters, he accepted an offer to play as a freshman at the University of the Incarnate Word, where he made headlines early in the spring with a three-run home run to beat A&M at College Station.

But just as Thompson started to make substantial progress with the Cardinals, hitting at a .310 clip over the first 25 games, he suffered a painful back injury that knocked him out for the season.

Later that year, in the summer, Thompson was confronted with another bit of adversity when Pat Hallmark resigned as UIW’s coach to take a job at UTSA.

The ball player decided he, too, would leave.

Thompson turned up for the 2020 season at Grayson, a powerful junior college program located in Denison, about 70 miles north of the Dallas-Fort Worth MetroPlex.

Intent on proving himself, he jump all over the baseball, pounding out 27 hits in 62 at bats in 19 games.

Of those hits, six went for doubles, two for triples and five for home runs. He also drove in 21 runs in the coronavirus-shortened season, prompting the Aggies to come calling.

Thompson, who will enroll at A&M in the fall, said “it feels great” to get the scholarship to a Southeastern Conference program.

“My journey to get there was a little unconventional, but it’s my journey, and I wouldn’t change it for the world,” he said. “Going from UIW, a coaching staff change, leaving to go to Grayson, then going on to Texas A&M, I love my story. I’m just really excited to be where I want to be. It’s every kid’s dream to go to a Power 5 conference, Texas A&M especially.”

Even though he humbled the Aggies with his mighty swing for UIW two seasons ago and ripped five more over the fence at Grayson, Thompson’s game revolves more around hitting for average and then running the bases aggressively.

“I think that’s real big (in my game),” he said. “The presence of speed on the bases … will speed up the pitcher’s head. They always have to worry about you on first base, second base. There’s a lot of problems you can create with speed.”

To illustrate his point, Thompson, who hits from the right side, said he singled into left field once earlier this spring against Ranger Junior College. He said he took advantage when he noticed that the fielder was playing the ball with a “lackadaisical” effort.

“I just decided to go for a double,” he said. “It caused a little problem. They were all frantic. And, just got into their heads.”

It’s a style that should mesh with Chanclas manager John McLaren’s philosophy of pushing the pace in a game. Thompson said he thinks he will enjoy playing that style, under McLaren, a former manager with the Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals.

“I like to put pressure on people, because some people can’t take the pressure,” he said. “Some people will just fold underneath it. I love the pressure and I embrace it. I use it to help drive me through games and practice. Being aggressive, that’s just how I am.”

UIW vs. Trinity photo gallery

Christian Peevy led Incarnate Word with 23 points in an 82-57 victory over Trinity on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, at the UIW McDermott Center.

Christian Peevy led Incarnate Word with 23 points.

Incarnate Word beat Trinity 82-57 on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, at the UIW McDermott Center.

UIW vs. Northern Colorado photo gallery

Northern Colorado beat UIW 90-64 on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018 at the UIW Convocation Center.

UIW’s Cody Graham (right) drive’s on Northern Colorado’s Johnatan Reyes.

Northern Colorado beat UIW 90-64 on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018 at the UIW Convocation Center.

Carson Cunningham: ‘I’m just really grateful for the opportunity’

Former Purdue University guard Carson Cunningham says he is “super excited” to get the job as men’s basketball coach at the University of the Incarnate Word.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of the University of the Incarnate Word mission,” said Cunningham, who has coached the past five seasons at NAIA Carroll College in Helena, Montana.

UIW is an NCAA Division I program in the Southland Conference.

Cunningham said in a telephone interview that he applied for the job soon after it came open in the first week of March.

He said he had preliminary talks with members of the UIW search committee, headed by athletic director Brian Wickstrom.

Subsequently, he was invited to the campus.

“Really, it all happened pretty fast,” Cunningham said. “I’m just really grateful for the opportunity, excited to get to work.”

Cunningham played for Gene Keady at Purdue for three seasons through 2001.

It’s the first Division I head coaching job for Cunningham, 40, from Ogden Dunes, Indiana.

In the past three years, his teams at Carroll dominated with a combined 80-22 record and back-to-back Frontier Conference titles.

Cunningham took over a program in 2013 that finished with only two victories the previous season.

He won nine games in his first year and then followed with records of 18-11, 23-10, 29-6 and 28-6.

The Saints reached the NAIA tournament in each of the past three years.

Cunningham will replace Ken Burmeister at UIW, which is still a program in transition.

In 2013-14, UIW embarked on a move from Division II and the Lone Star Conference to Division I and the Southland.

The Cardinals posted three straight winning records to start the transition but have since fallen on hard times.

Two years ago, UIW fell to 12-17. This past season, with the program eligible to compete for both the Southland and NCAA tournaments for the first time, the Cardinals dropped to 7-21.

At one point, they lost 17 games in a row. Ultimately, UIW fell short of the eight-team, SLC tournament, finishing tied for 11th at 2-16.


From new UIW head coach Carson Cunningham:

“It’s thrilling to join the University of the Incarnate Word — a school with a wonderful mission and super-dynamic academics — as its next head men’s basketball coach,” Cunningham said. “I’d like to thank AD Dr. Brian Wickstrom and the hiring committee for the opportunity to join such an impressive athletic program; one that is positioning itself for a bright future.”

From former Purdue coach Gene Keady:

“I’m very happy for Carson. He was fun to be around and very intelligent as a player. I’ve visited him at Carroll in Montana twice and really liked his program. I’m excited to follow UIW now, and I’m happy for him and his family.”

Coach Ken Burmeister is out at Incarnate Word

Ken Burmeister will not return as men’s basketball coach at the University of the Incarnate Word, athletic director Brian Wickstrom said in a news release.

A search for a replacement will begin immediately.

Ken Burmeister

The announcement comes three days after UIW finished 7-21 and 2-16 in the Southland Conference.

“I want to thank Coach Burmeister for his 12 years of service and for helping transition our program to the NCAA Division I level,” Wickstrom said in a statement. “As we evaluate the direction of UIW men’s basketball, we will search for the best candidate to fill the position and look forward to commenting further when that person is in place.”

Burmeister posted 10 winning seasons with UIW, including two Heartland Conference titles, a pair of appearances in the NCAA Division II South Central Region Tournament and a berth in the Tournament.

He accumulated a 311-280 (.526) record in 21 seasons as a head coach and a 183-156 (.540) record with the Cardinals.

Abilene Christian beats UIW 69-59 in regular-season finale

Abilene Christian kept its Southland Conference playoff hopes alive Saturday with a 69-59 victory over the Incarnate Word Cardinals.

The Wildcats held UIW to 27 percent shooting in the second half in rallying from a four-point halftime deficit.

Center Jalone Friday led Abilene Christian with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Guard Tevin Foster also scored 17 for ACU.

Forward Charles Brown III paced UIW with 12 points and 7 rebounds.

Trailing by nine points, Incarnate Word rallied Saturday into a 37-33 halftime lead over Abilene Christian in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Charles Brown III hit two baskets, followed by a driving layup from Augustine Ene.

Finally, Sam Burmeister drained a three pointer at the buzzer (see video above) to lift the Cardinals into a four-point lead at the break.

The game was played in front of an announced crowd of 1,256 at UIW’s Convocation Center.

UIW beats Houston Baptist 83-71 as Shawn Johnson scores 28

UIW senior Shawn Johnson follows his own miss with a rebound and a 15-foot jumper in the second half against Houston Baptist.

Incarnate Word coach Ken Burmeister barked at guard Shawn Johnson during a timeout early in the first half Wednesday night.

In response, Johnson seemed to take it out on the Houston Baptist Huskies for the rest of the game.

The senior from New Orleans hit career highs with 28 points and 17 rebounds as UIW won its second straight, downing Houston Baptist, 83-71.

In what seemed like a highlight-a-minute first half, Johnson had two powerful dunks and a couple of blocked shots to keep the Cardinals close.

Trailing 41-37 at intermission, they played better team ball in the second half, shooting 51.6 percent from the field.

Asked after the game about the motivation for his burst of energy, Johnson grinned and said, “Coach started yelling.”

“I don’t know, something clicked, and I was like, ‘I got to go get some buckets for the team,’ ” he said. “That’s what really happened. I wanted it, so I went to go get it.”

Johnson’s 17 rebounds were his career best. His also had 28 points last year against Rice.

The game between in-state rivals in the Southland Conference unfolded before an announced 1,052 at UIW’s Convocation Center.

Both teams have been eliminated from contention for the SLC tournament.

Johnson will play his last college game Saturday when UIW hosts Abilene Christian at 3 p.m.

An engineering major, Johnson said he has one more semester of school remaining before he graduates next December.

“I’m proud that I made it through college,” he said. “It’s touching A lot of people wouldn’t be able to finish it, and it’s difficult, but I stuck with it and I’m glad I made it.

“I’m not down about it. I’m really just happy about it.”


Incarnate Word 7-20, 2-15
Houston Baptist 6-24, 2-15

Coming up

Abilene Christian at Incarnate Word, 3 p.m. Saturday, regular-season finale

Incarnate Word forward Christian Peevy spins to the hoop for a basket in the first half Wednesday against Houston Baptist.

Northwestern State beats slumping UIW, 66-54

Northwestern State dribbles out the last few seconds on the clock Wednesday night in a 66-54 victory at UIW, its first since Dec. 9.

Forward Ishmael Lane scored 22 points, and Northwestern State (La.) snapped a 17-game losing streak Wednesday night with a 66-54 victory over the Incarnate Word Cardinals.

Despite a season-high 19 points from Sam Burmeister, UIW lost its 17th straight, the longest skid in the school’s five-year history in the Southland Conference.

UIW freshman Augustine Ene started at point guard and scored a season-high 13.

Northwestern shot 51.5 percent from the field to seize a 38-32 halftime lead in a duel between cellar-dwellers in the SLC.

The game was played in UIW’s Convocation Center before a sparse crowd announced at 876.


Northwestern State 4-22, 1-14
Incarnate Word 5-20, 0-15


“We just got to play harder,” said Burmeister, who scored 16 of his points in the first half. “We made some wrong mistakes at the wrong time.

“Every time we got it to two or four points we either get a turnover or miss a couple of free throws, which essentially is a turnover, and they come down and score.

“Just got to keep working, try to get one win. We got three opportunities to get one win. We don’t want to go this year without getting a win in conference.”


Seven minutes into the second half, UIW guard Cody Graham suffered a broken front tooth on a nasty fall under the basket.

Graham drove hard to the goal and drew contact with a Demons player, before coming down hard and hitting his head on the floor.

“He kind of blocked it, and his body hit mine,” Graham said. “When his body hit mine, I turned in the air, and when I turned, I banged my head on the ground.

“Then I banged it again and I bit my lip.”

After the fall, play was stopped so that the trainer could attend to him. Then he walked off to seek treatment. Graham returned to the bench later to watch the end of the game.

“I’m not in too much pain right now,” Graham said later. “It’s just a weird feeling right now, missing a tooth. Hopefully the doctor can take care of it and it’s not too serious.”

Graham said he will see a doctor Wednesday. He said he hopes to play Saturday at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Notable/Northwestern State

Northwestern State’s last victory came on Dec. 9 in Alexandria, La., against Louisiana College.

Coach Mike McConathy, who has led the Demons to three NCAA tournaments in the past 18 seasons, said it feels good to break the streak.

“It’s been a long dry spell,” he said. “It’s been difficult. Got a lot of young guys. You know, they continue to be coach-able. We not very pretty but we compete very hard.

“We’re just fortunate that we were able to do the things that we did (tonight). I felt like, defensively, we did a good job. I mean, I have utmost respect for UIW and the shooters they have.”

Northwestern held UIW to 30.4 percent shooting for the game, including 23.1 percent in the second half (6 of 26).

UIW guard Sam Burmeister sneaks behind the defense for a fast break layup in the first half.

Abilene Christian cruises past Incarnate Word, 80-69

Guard Jaren Lewis produced 20 points and 17 rebounds Saturday afternoon, lifting Abilene Christian to an 80-69 victory over the Incarnate Word Cardinals in Southland Conference men’s basketball.

Playing in Abilene, the Wildcats (15-11, 7-6) built a 16-point lead at intermission and stayed in front by double figures for most of the second half.

The Cardinals (5-17, 0-12) effectively attacked the basket and gained an advantage by hitting 26 of 36 free throws, to only 9 of 14 for the home team.

But they shot 40 percent from the field in losing their 14th straight game. Freshman Keaton Hervey led UIW with 17 points.

UIW loses seventh straight as SFA rolls, 83-63

Guard Kevon Harris scored 19 points as the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks handed the University of the Incarnate Word its seventh straight loss, 83-63, Saturday night in Nacogdoches.

The losing streak is the longest for UIW since it joined the Southland Conference in 2013 and started its move up to NCAA Division I.

Last-place UIW (5-10, 0-5 SLC) outscored SFA 8-0 in the opening minutes before the home team started to click.

By halftime, the Lumberjacks (15-3, 4-1) built an 11-point lead at 42-31. But the Cardinals never got closer than seven the rest of the way.

Guard Shawn Johnson led UIW with 11 points and eight rebounds. Forward Charles Brown III and guard Cody Graham added 10 points each.

The Cardinals host slumping Lamar on Wednesday night in an effort to get into the win column in SLC play.

Lamar (10-8, 2-3) has lost three straight.