UPDATED: Thornton processed the paperwork and was granted his release from Clemson on Friday.
Georgia Tech and UGA are among the schools at the top of the wishlist for the AJC’s Mr. Georgia Basketball, Westlake’s Marcus Thornton, who officially requested his release from his Clemson letter-of-intent on Thursday.
The 6-foot-7 Thornton decided to re-open his recruiting after Clemson’s Oliver Purnell left to the take the head coaching job at DePaul, according to his father.
Would Thornton be interested in Georgia Tech and UGA? “Absolutely, and for all the obvious reasons,” Billy Thornton told the AJC.
“It’s really early because we haven’t had the chance to talk to either of them personally. Georgia Tech is here in the ACC, and they always seem to have a lot of talent there. Georgia is an up-and-coming program. They seem to have some (player) needs.”
Thornton projects to be one of the country’s hottest free agents after a monster senior season. He averaged 24 points and 12 rebounds while leading Westlake to the state championship game in Georgia’s largest classification. Thornton is an extremely attractive prospect because, along with his basketball accomplishments, he is an honor student with a 3.7 GPA.
Georgia Tech and UGA have revealed through third parties that they are heavily interested in Thornton, if he is granted a release. The elder Thornton confirmed to the AJC that Clemson officials have agreed to the release, which is almost always a mere formality when a coaching change has occurred before a recruit has enrolled.
“(Clemson) has indicated to me that they will grant the release, and that they are excited about the opportunity to continue recruiting Marcus,” the elder Thornton said. “They said Marcus is part of any conversation that they are having with coaching candidates.”
“Clemson has been wonderful to deal with, and they are really understanding about the situation. I can’t say enough good things about them, and we look forward to talking to Clemson more after they name a new coach.”
Neither Georgia Tech nor UGA had offered Thornton when he signed with Clemson in November’s’ early period. He signed with Clemson over Wake Forest and Maryland. He also had offers from Virginia Tech and Xavier, among others.
Other than Georgia Tech and UGA, who else would Thornton be interested in? “I’m not sure, and I think it’s too early to put anything out there,” the elder Thornton said.
The rumor mill is burning up with new schools that are willing to offer immediate scholarships to Thornton after the release paperwork is completed. After Georgia Tech and UGA, the other parties reportedly include Kentucky, Michigan, Alabama, Tennessee, Wake Forest, South Carolina, LSU, Florida and DePaul.
Here is Thursday’s statement from the Thornton family:
Marcus has asked Clemson University for a release … due to the recent resignation of head coach Oliver Purnell.
With the spring ’signing period’ starting next week, our family is concerned that Marcus could be left with very few options if Clemson fails to identify a new head coach in a timely fashion. We fear that their search has been further complicated by an additional head coaching position becoming available in the ACC. Additionally, there is always the risk that Clemson’s incoming coach may not look upon an existing recruit favorably versus recruits he may be bringing with him from previous relationships.
Without a release from this letter of intent, our family is unable to identify and evaluate contingent options in case Clemson is unable to appoint a new coach in a timely fashion who is excited to have Marcus as a part of his program. We do not believe that Clemson will act punitively by denying his request, but anticipate they will grant Marcus a release given that the events of the past few days were not of his making.
Marcus is still very partial to Clemson and the Tigers remain at the top of his list. We are hoping that Clemson will continue to vigorously recruit Marcus once the new coach is identified or the search list is shortened. Our family has developed great relationships with interim head coach Ron Bradley and his remaining staff over the past two years. Marcus has developed significant relationships with many of the players as well, some that have pre-dated their tenure at Clemson. We love the fans at Littlejohn and hope that they will continue to want Marcus as a part of their Clemson family – The Thorntons.
What advice would you give to Marcus? Please post below. NOTE: The NCAA’s late signing period ends on May 19.
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