Batter up, UGA’s Mark Fox.
He will be the first basketball coach to meet with the AJC’s Mr. Basketball during the NCAA’s contact period, which starts Friday (today) and ends on Wednesday.
Fox is scheduled to make an in-home visit with Westlake’s Marcus Thornton on Friday (today).
The 6-foot-7 Thornton is one of college basketball’s hottest free agents, and has been showered with scholarship offers over the past week.
On Friday, Thornton trimmed his list to eight schools, including Georgia Tech and UGA. The others are Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan and Texas. He is also considering a ninth school, Memphis, where former high school teammate Jelan Kendrick has signed.
What’s the latest with Clemson? New coach Brad Brownell and Thornton have talked over the phone. “We had a good conversation,” said Thornton’s father, Billy. “He really just wanted to introduce himself, and to tell us that he is very interested in Marcus still coming to Clemson, and that he did not plan on rushing us.”
“Coach Brownell is a very personable, and seems like a great guy. We didn’t talk about any of the tough stuff because we want to do that in person.” Thornton signed with Clemson last November, but was granted a release from his letter-of-intent after former Clemson coach Oliver Purnell took the top job at DePaul on April 7.
The head coaches from eight finalists, including Kentucky’s John Calipari and Florida’s Billy Donovan, will be making in-home visits with Thornton during the upcoming NCAA contact period. The lone exception will be Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt, which Thornton will travel to meet due to close proximity.
Thornton is still studying the situation at Memphis. “We have not completely ruled out Memphis at this time, but it is hard to understand how they could utilize Marcus with seven recruits already coming in this year.”
Thornton is a late-bloomer on the national recruiting scene after a monster senior year. He averaged 24 points and 12 rebounds, while leading Westlake to the championship game in Georgia’s largest division.
“Things can change dramatically in just a couple of days (in the recruiting process),” said the elder Thornton, referring to schools waiting to see if NBA-declared players will change their minds, or the impact of other elite high school prospects signing scholarship papers.