Morgan Tompkins: The Red Hook Kid With NBA Connections

Dutchess County’s Tyler Lydon has embarked upon an incredible basketball journey; he reached the NCAA Tournament Final Four in 2016 with Syracuse University and was selected in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft. 

He has faced off against LeBron James and played alongside reigning two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic. From Pine Plains High School to the NBA, Lydon completed an ascent rarely seen by a Dutchess County hooper.

Now, he is mentoring Morgan Tompkins, another Dutchess County native and member of the Marist women’s basketball team.

While his NBA career concluded in 2019, Lydon’s odyssey in the world of hoops continues as Director of Camps, Clinics, and Skill Developments at LMC Athletics. Lydon began LMC alongside his brother, Zach, and their friend Justin Cooper, who each saw their collegiate basketball careers winding down around the same time as Lydon’s NBA departure. 

The trio also brought Jereme Mergendahl aboard as Director of Business Operations, thus completing the LMC acronym. Based in Rhinebeck, NY, Lydon and his associates at LMC focused on impacting the local youth through basketball. 

Tompkins, who hails from nearby Red Hook, was one of Lydon’s first students.

“I heard about her through a lot of different people,” Lydon said. “The second I started doing personal training and working with some of the best players in the area, I immediately wanted to help out. Especially when you have a kid that’s as talented as she is, and the potential that she has. You really want to help those kids a ton as well.”

Tompkins surpassed 1,000 points playing at Red Hook High School and earned Dutchess County Conference MVP honors in addition to making First-Team All-State in New York. She was even deemed the “Red Hook Kid” by Marist head coach Brian Giorgis years before she arrived in Poughkeepsie.

“To me, she’s one of the purest athletes that I’ve ever been around,” Lydon said. “Which, you know, I’ve been to the highest level of pro sports that you could possibly be in.”

Tompkins was friendly with Lydon’s brothers, fellow Dutchess County basketball players, before her one-on-one training with Tyler. As Tompkins entered her junior year in the summer of 2020, she learned about LMC Athletics and began working out with Lydon directly. 

Now in early 2023, the connection remains strong.

“He’s continued to be an outlet to work out with and talk about basketball or life in general,” Tompkins said. 

Lydon’s teachings have resonated with Tompkins in large part because of their specificity and uniqueness compared to the other training she has received. 

“He teaches a lot of things I haven’t personally heard or seen,” Tompkins said. “He tries to focus on the little things and it seems to help a lot in the long run.”

While footwork tips from a former NBA player are certainly useful, the lessons Lydon has imparted to Tompkins have extended beyond the basketball court. Tompkins has grown her mental toughness and is more focused through her training with Lydon. One message stands out to Tompkins when thinking of Lydon’s most impactful words.

“The sky is the limit and I’ll get my moment,” Tompkins said. 

Lydon lacked a formal basketball education through the earlier years of his path to the NBA. Today, he is determined to ensure young basketball players from the same area have an easier time breaking through. 

“Trying to get out of this area in a sense and make a name for myself in the basketball world took a lot of energy, a lot of effort, a lot of work,” Lydon said. “I wanted to be able to bring all the things I learned in the NBA and college back home to teach these kids because I never really had that growing up.”

Giving back to the local community is especially meaningful to Lydon, whose mother played basketball for Red Hook High School and Dutchess County Community College. With Tyler and Zach now running a successful basketball academy in the same area, the Lydon lineage is building a deep history within Dutchess County basketball. 

Tompkins is one of the earliest examples of the impact Lydon seeks to create for young, local basketball players. She turned her Red Hook hype into a spot on the Marist women’s basketball team and has appeared in all 25 games as a freshman thus far, including three starts, and posted a career-high 13 points on Feb. 11 against Canisius.

It is something of a full-circle moment for Tompkins, who attended Marist basketball camps long before she was a Red Fox. 

“I’ve been coming to camps here for a while,” Tompkins said. “During my recruitment, I would continue to come to as many camps and as many games as I could to see if this was really where I wanted to be, and it was.”

Lydon is excited to help more players like Tompkins reach new heights. It took some time after his NBA experiences, but Lydon has grown to love teaching. Giving back to the kids standing in the same shoes Lydon himself wore a decade ago has been extremely rewarding. 

“Once I started, it was a little rough because I go from the NBA to now all of a sudden I’m back home working with freshmen,” Lydon said. “It was hard for me at first to maintain my love. I was still contemplating playing at the time, so the first three or four months of me actually getting back and starting to train were slow for me mentally. And then once I started to see the results in kids, I realized ‘Wow, I really do love teaching these kids.’”

Lydon’s realization could benefit Dutchess County basketball on a large scale if players continue to utilize him as a resource. But ultimately, Lydon wants to be the support system for local athletes that he did not have access to growing up.

“At the end of the day, as long as I can help these kids and impact their lives in a positive way, whether it’s on or off the floor, that’s my goal,” Lydon said.

When it comes to Tompkins, Lydon can consider this goal achieved.

Edited by Isabella Cicinelli and Jonathan Kinane

Photo from Jonathan Kinane

Author: Daniel Capuano

Marist Sports Communication 2023

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