In the short span of seven days, the AJC’s Mr. Georgia Basketball has turned into one of the hottest names in college basketball.
Georgia Tech, UGA, and Alabama have offered scholarships to Westlake High’s Marcus Thornton, who was officially granted a release from his letter-of-intent with Clemson last Friday.
Kentucky coach John Calipari has expressed heavy interest in Thornton, along with representatives from Texas and Florida. There is also speculation that Tennessee, Michigan, LSU and Auburn, among others, will also join the recruiting race. (Note: See Monday night’s updated list at the bottom).
“We’re very surprised by all the attention,” said Thornton’s father, Billy. “People told us to anticipate it, but you don’t really know what is going to happen. It has been very overwhelming, and we feel very blessed.”
The 6-foot-7 Thornton had a much lower profile when he committed to Clemson before his junior season, and then signed with the Tigers over Wake Forest and Maryland last November.
Thornton’s Q rating went off the charts 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. Also, Thornton is very attractive to scouts as an honor student with a 3.7 GPA.
Here are tidbits from the conversations between a few colleges and Thornton’s family:
Thornton has had a good relationship with Alabama’s Anthony Grant since his coaching days at Virginia Commonwealth. He is also waiting to see who will be Clemson’s next coach. Thornton only requested his release after Clemson’s Oliver Purnell resigned to take Depaul’s head coaching job last week. Purnell was a major reason why Thornton picked the Tigers.
“Marcus is intrigued by a lot of big-time coaches expressing interest,” his father said. “He had his mind absolutely set on Clemson, and he’s still a little disappointed that (Purnell) left. Not to say he won’t end up going to Clemson, because they are very much in consideration.
“Right now, the (recruiting process) is like being a kid in a candy store. By the same token, we’re ready to move forward with everything so Marcus can begin preparing for the next stage of his life.”
What’s next for Thornton? He will come up with a list of his top schools by the end of the week, and then set up either recruiting trips or in-house visits during the next NCAA contact period, which is April 16-21.
Click here to go to video of Thornton.
Updated at 11 p.m. Monday: As expected, the colleges have been offering scholarships at a dizzying pace on Monday. Thornton’s current offer sheet consists of Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Michigan, Auburn, UTEP, along with the other four mentioned earlier — Georgia Tech, UGA, Alabama, and Clemson. Thornton is anticipating conversations with Memphis and Tennessee on Tuesday.
Marcus has already agreed to accept in-home visits with Kentucky, Georgia Tech, and UGA in two weeks, and still deciding among other schools.
Check back with the AJC for more updates.