AJC’s Mr. Georgia Basketball granted Clemson release, interested in Georgia Tech and UGA (Updated at 9:30 p.m. Friday)

michael carvell

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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.

If Marcus Thornton decided to stay in Georgia, which in-state college would be his best choice?

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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.

Will Mr. Georgia Basketball become a free agent? (AJC file)

WWMGBD = What Will Mr. Georgia Basketball Do? (AJC file)

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 Thornton, “Parade All-American” & “Mr. Georgia Basketball,” has asked Clemson University for a release from his “national letter of intent” 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

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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110 comments Add your comment

Techie

April 8th, 2010
10:37 pm

Happy Dawg

April 8th, 2010
10:37 pm

I’d expect Kentucky to come heavily after Thornton considering their whole team just left for the NBA. Hopefully he takes a liking to Mr. Fox. Either way. Best of luck.

Happy Dawg

April 8th, 2010
10:39 pm

Techie, anything else to say other than “first”?

Michael Carvell

April 8th, 2010
10:42 pm

It was a NO BRAINER for Marcus Thornton to request his Clemson release. He can go through the recruiting process all over again, including consideration of his beloved Tigers which have seemed to handle the situation in a first-class manner (they have scored big points w/the family). If I was a betting man, I would say he is Georgia Tech’s OR UGA’s to lose. They blew it the first time around overlooking Marcus. Then again, he wasn’t near the prospect and ultra-developed stud he is now. Will they blow it again? Stay tuned. And don’t turn your back on Calipari.

Happy Dawg

April 8th, 2010
10:48 pm

Michael, why is it that Thornton seems to have given no consideration to following Purnell to Depaul similar to John Wall and company following Calipari to Ky? It seems that if a player committed to a school based on a coach that he would at least give some thought to following the coach.

Pope UGA XXIII

April 8th, 2010
10:48 pm

Here’s the deal in-state:
— Choose Tech, play in a great conference, but get next
to no coaching.
— Choose UGA, play in a good conference with a great
coach and you will be ready for the NBA much quicker

The Sham

April 8th, 2010
10:52 pm

Why play on the flats when you can play for an “up and coming” program as your father described? Stay home an become a legend in Athens. If you go to Tech you will get under coached and if you go elsewhere, you won’t be as fully appreciated by others as you will the Dawg Nation – just ask Trey what’s up!

Hosta

April 8th, 2010
10:53 pm

It depends. Does the kid want to be a student-athlete working toward a serious degree (Tech) or does he prefer a party school that recruits barely literate goons who will be enrolled in absurd degree programs that no non-athletes would waste their time with (UGA).

Nothing has changed at UGA since Jan Kemp exposed this sham of a university.

Michael Carvell

April 8th, 2010
10:54 pm

Happy Dawg: I’m sure DePaul will try to get in there. But DePaul? Doesn’t carry a big name in these parts. Too many ACC/SEC options.

Ken

April 8th, 2010
10:55 pm

I think the best course of action for this young man is to play for GT. For all of Paul Hewitt’s faults, he has proven he can get players in the NBA and many of them have had alot of NBA success. Maybe he hasn’t had the types of records Tech fans would hope for, but a chance to play close to home and in the ACC seems like a win/win for Tech and Mr. Thornton. Good luck to he and his family wherever he chooses.

Anajanada Hassmapagathflappaji

April 8th, 2010
10:56 pm

Hello Mr. Basketball Player. Come to the Georgia Tech University, and I do your algebra homework. Then we go to Varsity for several hot dog. It a great fun. Go Jacket. Sting them! Buzz.

Michael Carvell

April 8th, 2010
10:57 pm

Probably the No. 1 thing about Marcus that very people realize is that he is a super student (3.7 GPA), and would probably qualify for academic grants at any college of his choosing, if he didn’t play basketball. In my opinion, that is what makes him one of the top 5 free agents in college basketball. He can do it on the court and in the classroom. Great character kid.

Michael Carvell

April 8th, 2010
10:59 pm

UGA has a slight early advantage over Georgia Tech because Marcus grew close to one of the assistants who came from VT, which recruited Marcus. But Georgia Tech would likely make up ground quickly.

wiley

April 8th, 2010
11:01 pm

Come to Georgia Tech. Play in the ACC and attend a great school that is known for producing NBA talent.

Better?

April 8th, 2010
11:06 pm

I keep hearing how Fox and his Bulldogs are an up and coming team. I guess I’m just not buying it. No road wins was less than impressive and the team was still only 2 games better than the 08-09 season with Felton at the helm. As of right now, I think the hype is greater than the results.

Anajanada Hassmapagathflappaji

April 8th, 2010
11:10 pm

One time at the Georgia Tech University, I saw a girl on the campus. She turn me on with the blue and gold burka! She can play with my abacus any time, if you understand what it is that I am saying. Go Jacket. Sting them! Buzz.

Jason

April 8th, 2010
11:13 pm

Haha one of the dumbest comments i have ever seen Pope. Do you not realize that 9 players are in the NBA right now that played for Hewitt at GT? Dummy….

Reptillicide

April 8th, 2010
11:13 pm

In years past, you would figure that GT would have the inside track in a situation like this. However, as Mr. Thornton’s comments reveal, clearly Marcus and his father think of UGA as a program going in the right direction, and they may believe that he could make an immediate name for himself at UGA. Also, I think if you’re looking at the difference in just coaching, Fox gets the nod. Whereas Paul Hewitt has sent players to the NBA, merely because he’s been able to recruit kids who had the talent to get them to the NBA already, Fox has actually developed players. And that is something that even Tech fans will likely admit that Hewitt has not done a good job of.

Come to UGA, Marcus. You’ve likely got a NBA future waiting on you, regardless of where you go to college. But you’ve got a chance to become a legend for the red and black… and if you do that, they’ll remember your name here a lot longer than they will in Lexington, Raleigh or Atlanta.

cdog

April 8th, 2010
11:14 pm

COACH FOX SHOULD LAND THORNTON. HE WOULD FIT RIGHT IN WITH THE BULL DOGS PROGRAM.WITH HIM GEORGIA COULD BE HEADED IN THE FINAL FOUR WIH THE KID OUIT CALIFORNIA ABOARD AS WELL. TECH HAS FAVORS SO HE WOULD STAND A BETTER CHANCE WITH GEORGIA

Reptillicide

April 8th, 2010
11:18 pm

Tech fans would do well to make the distinction between INHERITING NBA players, and DEVELOPING NBA players. Hewitt has done well recruiting players that already have NBA potential, but he hasn’t developed those players. Fox has DEVELOPED players.

For as long as Hewitt has been at Tech, what do y’all have to show for it? He’s a good recruiter, but he’s not a good coach. And don’t even start trying to say otherwise, because every single one of you were secretly (or not secretly) praying that he would accept the St. John’s job and let you off the hook for that massive contract that you’re stuck in.

Bobby Sparks

April 8th, 2010
11:19 pm

Go to Ga. Tech. They will allow you to play against best players that will get you ready for the NBA. Also, you can get a degree from a school that will allow you to make a lot of money if you do not make it to the NBA. Plus, if you will a national championship at home; you will never be forgotten. Please go TO Tech were basketball matter!

ballman

April 8th, 2010
11:20 pm

If he wants to play for an excellent basketball coach, go to Georgia. If not, go to Tech.

Matt Kuchar (-2)

April 8th, 2010
11:29 pm

Since when is Coach “Nerdstrom” considered a great coach???? uga is a last place team in a terrible, terrible basketball conference.

Rabun Dawg

April 8th, 2010
11:36 pm

Call coach “K”,he could use you and develop you much better than the in state programs. Pains me to say this, but true! If he ( Coach K), says no, then head to Athens, there is room at the Inn!

Reptillicide

April 8th, 2010
11:39 pm

Hey Bobby Sparks,

Two things:

Paul Hewitt hasn’t even come CLOSE to a national title at GT, despite having a wealth of extremely talented players. I think it’s plainly evident that a national championship is NOT in the cards for Hewitt.

Second, exactly how is a degree from GT any better than any other degree he could get from any number of division 1 schools within several hundred miles of Atlanta? Short answer: it’s not.

jack

April 8th, 2010
11:41 pm

So what I’m hearing is Hewitt is basically the same as Richt – can recruit pro talent but not develop it.

Chuck

April 8th, 2010
11:44 pm

(insert UGA coach) owns Tech since Cremins left, despite “who-wants-a-scholly?” forgotten recruiting classes and several coaching changes.

That should tell the world all it needs to know about how well they develope their top-shelf talent on the Flats.

Chuck

April 8th, 2010
11:46 pm

No jack, you’re hearing wrong. Richt is one of the winningest coaches in the land. Richt takes great talent and wins a LOT with it. Hewitt takes great talent and struggles to go .500

Jason

April 8th, 2010
11:48 pm

Sorry but Mark Fox is NOT a good coach and the lovefest for him from all UGA fans is amusing. Only at UGA he can lead you to a last place finish in a weak conference and be known as a great coach that develops players. LMAO If he wants to win he needs to go to Georgia Tech.

SCBB

April 8th, 2010
11:49 pm

“Paul Hewitt hasn’t even come CLOSE to a national title at GT, despite having a wealth of extremely talented players.”

Really? So you wouldn’t consider playing in the national championship game in 04′ “close”?

Brian F.

April 8th, 2010
11:49 pm

Marcus, Coach Fox will without question help you develop into a lottery pick. Why not be a stud at UGA (your state university) from the very start where there will be tons of minutes for you immediately !!

Jason

April 8th, 2010
11:50 pm

Reptillicide how dumb are you? Georgia Tech went to the national championship game in 04 and lost to a great UCONN team that had 2 top 5 picks. How is that not close to a national title? LOL

jack

April 8th, 2010
11:54 pm

Chuck – you may be right. 10th seed in the NCAA tourney vs Independence Bowl is a pretty fair comparison…

Go to GT

April 8th, 2010
11:55 pm

UGA’s 8 basketball fans total get excited about 13-17 seasons. LOL

DBLD

April 8th, 2010
11:59 pm

Get a degree from Tech? That’s a good one. Yeah, maybe you will be one of the lucky 25% who actually graduate. Go to UGA – the experience, degree or not, will carry you much further in life.

WCCOLLINS

April 9th, 2010
12:02 am

From what I hear, you are exactly the kind of student/athjlete we are looking for at your home state university,the University of Georgia. We have now got in place an outstanding coach to help you develop your considerable basketball talent and the university can help you develop your academic interest in whatever profession you choose! Be a significant part of your state’s academic and athletic success! You will never regret staying close to home!

Noboday cares about UGA Basketball

April 9th, 2010
12:05 am

Not the press, not the players, not the fans. UGA is a football school period. Hewitt ain’t great, but he sure has a record of getting players to the next level. Mark Fox is a joke and always talks about future potential when the future potential never ever comes…

Ask anyone outside the state of Georgia about basketball in Georgia and they always talk about GT, not UGA.

Tdawg

April 9th, 2010
12:10 am

Rabun Dawg, you might want to drop the dawg part of your username. Listening to so called dawg fans like you is the reason Georgia’s basketball program will never be any good. Advising home talent to go elsewhere. You my man are no dawg fan, But definitely a big time coach K fan. Genius do you want to know why coach K is such a good coach. It is because like Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas and a few other schools he comes into other states and steals the other states best talent. Not because he is a good coach, but because he has better players. Why else wouldn’t he want to coach the Nets. $14 million dollars, please. It’s because he knows that in the pros he wouldn’t be playing with a stacked deck. He would rather play it safe and let everyone think that he is so much in love with Duke. Again, bull. Fact is, is that he is so afraid that if he left Duke and couldn’t win in the pros then his image as a great coach would be tarnished. He would rather play it safe and loose millions than take a chance and prove to everyone that he is as good as he thinks he is. In other words, he doesn’t have the guts.

Go Tech

April 9th, 2010
12:13 am

Alright Coach Hewitt, you’ve landed big recruits before…but if this kid is a one and done, we need to think a little harder about offering. At least he has the grades.
If he wants to play against the best college teams in the country, come over to the Thrillerdome.
ACC is where its at: More Championships, final fours, all-Americans than any other conference and its just not even close.

Tdawg

April 9th, 2010
12:16 am

The kid is going to either DePaul or Kentucky. Most likely DePaul but with all the bull that Calipari shells out don’t count Kentucky out. Wish that he would stay in state, but don’t think that he will. There’s not much loyalty with these Georgia kids.

HanDAWG

April 9th, 2010
1:50 am

UGA is a top 18 public university. I get tired of shallow Tech geeks talking like they are such a bastion of academic royalty just because we do know how to throw parties, get hot girlfriends, rock, use the English language and actually play real football. Congrats to Tech on being 8th on a recent list of best academic public schools, but there is more to professional life than niche trades and Emory is the best academic school in the state, not you. Are you really suggesting that you usually graduate these players with engineering degrees? What happened when we lined up and played hoops this year? The highly (over) ranked North Ave Trade Jack-its got beat by THE FLAGSHIP, a great University (oldest public school in the US), in a great college town, with actual people that relate to the real world. Coach Fox is a real leader and will get it done in ATHENS, with an improved Coliseum and recruiting efforts on an uptick. (Read: http://www.bighairyblawg.com)

Belvedere

April 9th, 2010
2:32 am

The whole state of Georgia is a cesspool, from Athens to Statesboro to Kennesaw to Valdosta to Fort Valley to Augusta. Do yourself and your family a favor and come on up to Clemson after the new coach is named. You’ll be glad in the long run.

Remember folks, Georgia is like Australia. It was founded and settled by convicts. Only Georgia doesn’t have cool things, like kangaroos and wombats. Just red clay and dumb rednecks. Stupid Oglethorpe…

KJ

April 9th, 2010
2:59 am

LOL @ the clempson dude ragging on GA, someone’s throwing stones out of his glass single-wide…

PN

April 9th, 2010
3:12 am

Hahahahaha, “go to Tech, play in a great conference, and get next to no coaching…goto UGA and be ready for the NBA much quicker”?? hhahahahaa! As much as I dislike Paul Hewitt, you have to give the man credit for TWO things, he is a top tier recruiter, and he can place players in the NBA very well. For every Chris Bosh and Thaddeous Young there is an Anthony Morrow and Will Bynum who were 4 year players and not highly touted NBA talent. Both are having terrific NBA careers all things considered. As for this Thornton kid, if you are a one-and-done, please go to UGA or UK or wherever. If you’re gonna be around for 3 years, I’d love to see you in Gold and White.

PN

April 9th, 2010
3:21 am

I interviewed for a position 4 years ago after graduating from Georgia Tech. My GPA was a 3.39. The interviewer looked at my resume, saw my GPA, and stated: “I interview a ton of kids from UGA. A 3.39 from Georgia Tech is a 4.0 at UGA in our book”. That is the difference between your “top 18″ public university and our “top 8″ public university in the eyes of the real world.

blackprix

April 9th, 2010
3:29 am

This young man needs to go to the school HE WANTS TO GO TO AND IS COMFORTABLE WITH. I’m sure he’s going to have a lot of choices, good for him.

P

April 9th, 2010
5:02 am

I don’t see Marcus at Tech or UGA. He would have picked one of them before if that was where his heart was. Sounds to me he will end up at Clemson anyway.

JD

April 9th, 2010
6:27 am

Enter your comments here

JD

April 9th, 2010
6:29 am

Every time I try to vote in an AJC sports poll I am told that I have already voted with ID#33, which is not true. Will you please correct this misinformation so that I may vote. Thanks for your attention.

Frostymugs

April 9th, 2010
6:52 am

Pn the guy hired you with a tech degree for two reasons. He knew you have no game therefore you weren’t a candidate to sleep with his secretary and you weren’t very marketable to other companies with no sense of humor or social life. You were a safe hire! Congrats on getting that job that no UGA Grad wanted anyways. How much is dairy queen paying these days?lol