AJC’s Mr. Basketball gets offers from Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Auburn, Michigan, Georgia Tech, UGA, Alabama, more

Kentucky's John Calipari is charging fast and furiously after the AJC's Mr. Georgia Basketball (AP)

Kentucky's John Calipari is charging fast and furiously after the AJC's Mr. Georgia Basketball (AP)


*Memphis is latest to offer (click here)

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.

Will Hewitt take advantage of second chance? (AJC)

Will Hewitt take advantage of second chance? (AJC)

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:

  • Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt: “One of the things (Hewitt) was saying was how they missed out on Marcus early on. He was apologetic about it. He said by the time he knew about him in the early time frame, Clemson had scooped up Marcus. (Hewitt) was commendable to Clemson, about how they had indentified him early. He talked about Georgia Tech’s needs with Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors (declaring for the NBA Draft) and how there were some big opportunities there for Marcus.”
  • Georgia’s Mark Fox: “He was a very personable individual. He almost seems like a Southerner. To me, he seems like a natural fit to Georgia. When you call his cell phone, his ringback tone is the song “Georgia On My Mind.” That was very touching. Georgia had the advantage seeing Marcus a lot on the AAU circuit a lot because they were following Norcross High’s Jeremy Lamb (signed with UConn). They had the chance to observe Marcus, and were relenting in the fact that they never got to recruit him. This became a new opportunity for Georgia, as Marcus became available again.”
  • Kentucky’s Calipari: “He is a very impressive. He talked to us about what has transpired at Kentucky, and that he has eight people leaving (five underclassmen declaring for the NBA Draft, and three graduating seniors). He has some definite personnel needs. (Calipari) said he has to be able to recruit people who can hit the floor right away. He was using the term ‘He can’t hide them (any incoming recruits)’ because anyone that comes there is going to have to be a contributor. But he has a lot of people to choose from, I’m sure.”

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.

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

Next to offer? (AJC file)

“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.

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“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.

178 comments Add your comment

suwaneedawg

April 12th, 2010
2:37 pm

First…who cares.

suwaneedawg

April 12th, 2010
2:38 pm

I hate to say it but, if Calipari is in the mix then he is probably Kentucky bound.

Marcos

April 12th, 2010
2:38 pm

Hmmm surprised Calipari isn’t promising him a lump sum of cash. That is how he operates. He breaks every rule then moves on with his massive bonuses to leave the schools and students to pay the price. Calipari is a criminal. Just ask Memphis and UMASS what they think of him…

Sa-wahn-ee

April 12th, 2010
2:46 pm

You shouldn’t care. This is a basketball story so UGA is irrelevant.

GT Bball Fan

April 12th, 2010
2:46 pm

UGA looks less criminal with Calipari involved

Chi-Town Dawg

April 12th, 2010
2:51 pm

Is DePaul an option now that Purnell has gone there?

Captain

April 12th, 2010
2:54 pm

How things can change so quickly for a young man. ONe thing you have to admire about basketball prospects, once they commit to a program they generally do not change their minds, so unlike football. Marcus committed to Clemson early, turning down interest from other schools. Now he has a chance to do it all over, or better yet, he has a chance to do what he didn’t the first time around. Maybe CMF can take advantage of this new opportunity.

BIG NICK

April 12th, 2010
2:55 pm

Might as well go to Florida…That’s where all the good GA HS football players go…

Jake Fury

April 12th, 2010
2:57 pm

Anywhere but Kentucky, anyone but Calipari.

Bullwinkle

April 12th, 2010
2:59 pm

If he’s a “one-and-done”, then what difference does it make? But if he will use that 3.7 GPA to go for a degree, then he will become very valuable. The NBA (Calipari’s selling point) is ruining a lot of futures.

chooseWHERE U LIKE

April 12th, 2010
3:04 pm

Dont be undecided for ever kid!!!! make up your mind, a word of ADVICE CHOOSE A HOME STATE COLLEGE, UGA OR TECH

Ben in Georgia

April 12th, 2010
3:07 pm

@Captain, it’s unfair to say “he has a chance to do what he didn’t the first time around.” UGA didn’t offer him until now. He was a very low profile player coming into his senior season, from what I understand, and then he blew up. If UGA ends up with Thornton or Polee it would have to be considered a huge coup. I hope it happens more than anybody, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Jane Doe

April 12th, 2010
3:11 pm

How sad is your life when ALL you can contribute to a conversation is the same running diatribe running throughout the SEC (and other parts of the country) Calipari is a crook….yada yada yada…..World Wide Wes…yada yada yada……
one and done…..convicted felon (I don’t know WTF that is about…)
You want to hate him, go ahead-knock yourself out, hate everything UK, not like we aren’t used to it.

But PLEASE, get some new material…You people bore me to tears.

Hosta

April 12th, 2010
3:20 pm

Thornton’s choice is real simple. If he wants a party school with absurd degrees that are meaningless, it’s UGA. If he wants a quality education where he’ll learn self-discipline, he’ll choose Georgia Tech. That’s all he needs to know.

Rita

April 12th, 2010
3:23 pm

“Jane Doe,” you like other girls, right?

EdPerez

April 12th, 2010
3:23 pm

@Bullwinkle, ‘NBA ruining futures’ Yeah those million dollar contracts are just awful.

BrokeBackJacket

April 12th, 2010
3:25 pm

*passes Jane Doe a tissue*

Come to tech young man…get coached DOWN for a year!

tech BB fans…absolutely most delusional bunch of folks in history…thinking they are relevant in big time BB when in fact they have been to the final 4 twice…exactly the same number of final 4 appearances of UGA…who at least knows their BB program in general sucks!

Almost forgot….30-24
8 of 9…and counting!

Danno

April 12th, 2010
3:26 pm

Calipari is a crook. He should be barred from the NCAA forever.

Danno

April 12th, 2010
3:29 pm

Hey BrokeBackJacket – go suck an egg, you moron. Why don’t you mention the UGA arrests while you’re on numbers.

Red

April 12th, 2010
3:42 pm

He’s a perfect Duke candidate. Why settle for less when you have athleticism and the brains and have a chance to play for The Chef.

Dave / NM

April 12th, 2010
3:45 pm

Don’t know much about this kid, but if Cal is showing interest, he must be good.

Guest

April 12th, 2010
3:51 pm

Yea, that’s right, Calipari left Memphis in HORRIBLE shape. No probation, a top 3 recruiting class for next year, and a pre-season top 10 ranking. Yea, he definitely destroyed the Memphis program. Good call.

Just my O pinion

April 12th, 2010
3:53 pm

I have never figured out why any kid would go out of state if he/she can get a free ride in state at a major school. If you go to that school and do well then some of the boosters will always give you a job when you finish. If you go out of state then you can forget about coming home.

KevinM

April 12th, 2010
3:56 pm

The majority of Dawg fans love to bash the other team no matter who it is rather than explain how much better their school experience here than others.
Always easier to throw rocks at Cal and Tech…truth is, Georgia and Tech were slack in their recruitment of someone in their own state. Throw Trae Golden in there as well, who went from Ohio State to Tennessee and has played in this state for 4 years.
That shows you the lack of draw Georgia and Tech have to local players. It is truly not good to let some of the best in the state leave and not be able to convince them to stay home and leave a legacy.

And please someone tell me that EVERY coach in this state is not telling this caliber of a player the NBA shouldn’t be a factor in your decision. Them fulfilling their potential shouldn’t be part of the equation huh?

Pure ignorance.

JEWELL ROLLEN

April 12th, 2010
3:57 pm

ANYWHERE BUT GA TECH…HEWITT WILL RUIN YOU MARCUS!!!!

KevinM

April 12th, 2010
3:59 pm

FWIW, I don’t think Cal has an advantage in this recruitment anyway. They are getting in way too late to be significant.

All Clemson has to do is bring in a coach that will show MT that he is the major factor to their next season. They have to make a splash with MT and his family. Good luck to wherever he ends up and I hope he reconsiders and still heads to Clemson. That would say alot about his character to keep his LOI intact.

Legend of Len Barker

April 12th, 2010
4:11 pm

@EdPerez

The lure of the NBA is what’s killing futures. Daniel Orton is a prospect but is very, very raw. How many NBA teams will want to wait on him to develop? Hasheem Thabeet, who was a very high draft pick and decently polished in college was sent down to the D-League. Orton’s not even on third of the player that Thabeet is at this point.

NBA contracts are nice. But only if you get one. Preferably more than just that one.

UKRULZ

April 12th, 2010
4:12 pm

I didn’t realize people from Georgia were so stupid. It must suck to be a UGA fan- we own you in basketball and we just smoked your overrated football team in that house of cheating down in Athens. Everyone knows UGA pays their football players- and you idiots still suck. LMAO Maybe once you morons can field a basketball team that can actually beat my YCMA pickup team, you could be relevant. And football? LOL You guys will always be behind Florida, UT, LSU, Bama, Auburn and now apparently UK. So enjoy that title you retards won WAYYYYYYYYYYYY back in 1980 when Hershel was the highest paid person in Georgia! LOL

Old Yeller

April 12th, 2010
4:25 pm

I never did hear- did Georgia fans BBQ that old flea bitten bulldog mascot that kicked the bucket at the next home game? I hear you JawJA fans are fond of wild game meat.

Dawg Fan in Grayson

April 12th, 2010
4:27 pm

UKRULZ..just call yourself an idiot. Your football team beat UGA in Athens for the first time since JC was in office and you claim to be a house beater. UGA basketball has beaten UK in Lexington more times than UK football has beaten UGA in Athens in the last 33 years. Look it up.

Cheatin??? Does the name Dwayne Casey ring a bell? You live in a glass house so don’t throw any rocks.

glw

April 12th, 2010
4:28 pm

Kentucky definitely has a shot because its an elite program and can offer immediate playing time. HE would fit good at Georgia too. Though he is being recruited by TEch, but seems like they have similar wing players in Oliver and Rice, so he wouldnt get the playing time. So in the end, I think it comes down to Georgia and Kentucky with the Dawgs having a slight edge because of proximity to home.

GoBigBlue

April 12th, 2010
4:33 pm

Hey Dawg fan, how does it feel to be a complete afterthought in basketball and a washed up has been in football? Tell me, when was the last time Georgia was in the national title game in football? LSU, Tenn., Florida and Bama have won national titles in the 90’s and since 2000. And where is Georgia? NOWHERE! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA Georgia football is a joke.

papadawg

April 12th, 2010
4:35 pm

I say leave him alone Dawgs, he’ll most likely be a one & done if he’s as good as they say

bruce mac

April 12th, 2010
4:37 pm

Hosta, he doesn’t give a Rat’s Arzz about your engineering degrees. Get in the real world man, he is an NBA BBall plsyer in waiting.

VolNation

April 12th, 2010
4:40 pm

Why in the hell would any kid want to play at Georgia? If Kentucky comes calling go to UK. I know it sucks but it is so true.

GeorgiaTechRocksBulldogs

April 12th, 2010
4:42 pm

Does Georgia still have an athletic program?
Lets face it, why in the hell would this kid pick a horrible program like Georgia if schools like Georgia tech and Kentucky are involved.

Bisquit24

April 12th, 2010
4:43 pm

Daniel Orton will dominate in the pros…he battled Cousins all year in practice…So Legend of whoever u dont know squat about the NBA…Thabeet sucks, Orton would school him anyday of the week…I hope Cal scoops this guy up so u all can whine some more…I love being hated cause that means UK is Back!!!!!!!!

bruce mac

April 12th, 2010
4:43 pm

Yea, why did Dominique and others make such a dumb decision? Some people don’t follow the crowd or do what they are told.

papadawg

April 12th, 2010
4:44 pm

Let me think, what’s the salary difference between a Engineering degree & a pro basketball career. Just go where you’re close to Mom, the pro career is just a year or two from now

GeorgiaTechRocksBulldogs

April 12th, 2010
4:46 pm

Bruce Mac is Dominique a great grandfather yet? You just made everyones case for them.

bruce mac

April 12th, 2010
4:48 pm

I am not sure, how many NC does GT have, I must have missed them all?

bruce mac

April 12th, 2010
4:49 pm

73 – 66. It hurts doesn’t it?

Decatur Tech Fan

April 12th, 2010
4:50 pm

I think making these kids go one year of college is so stupid and it has killed my beloved program. If an 18 yr old i allowed ot vote and get his/her head blown off in some foreign land, then he should be able to work in his chosen profession, providing he is good enuff. that said, I think tech should pass on him and build a cohesive program, aka Butler and Duke, so that winning is more common place. Oh i forgot, we have the Worst coach in the ACC or SEC……nvr mind.

82Dawg

April 12th, 2010
4:52 pm

GoBigBlue ….who is your team?and when was the last time they won a national championship in football?

GeorgiaTechRocksBulldogs

April 12th, 2010
4:53 pm

Mr Thornton keep your son away from Georgia. You see we are talking basketball on here and since Georgia has no history in basketball some clown named Bruce Mac wants to talk football.
What a joke of a program.

bruce mac

April 12th, 2010
4:54 pm

Duh, talk about morons. I asked you how many NC did Tech win in BBall. Where is the football comment clown?

[...] John Calipari has reached out to Marcus Thornton, a 6-7 forward out of Georgia who recently was released from his LOI when Oliver Purnell left [...]

Charles

April 12th, 2010
4:55 pm

You Kentucky fans are all class…not one of the negative comments directed at Kentucky has a UGA descriptor for a name, yet here comes big blue nation showing their collective butts. Just a travesty of a fanbase. There are some very poor football fanbases in our conference and Georgia is certainly not immune – we have our share – but no one holds a candle to Kentucky basketball fans. Just a repulsive bunch.

GeorgiaTechRocksBulldogs

April 12th, 2010
4:56 pm

82Dawg Hey moron this is an article on basketball. I know your basketball program is non existent but if you need to talk football that really is humiliating dont you think. lol!

Albert

April 12th, 2010
4:57 pm

Calipari will have Kentucky on probation in 2 more years anyway–look at his past record. As Bobby Knight stated, Calipari shouldn’t even be allowed to coach college ball.