Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt has chance to make last impression on AJC’s Mr. Basketball during Wednesday in-home recruiting visit

Hewitt The Closer? He closed the deal on the nation's No. 1 prospect (Derrick Favors) last year. Will Hewitt have the magic touch again? (AJC)

Hewitt The Closer? He closed the deal on the nation's No. 1 prospect (Derrick Favors) last year. Will Hewitt have the magic touch again? (AJC)

Georgia Tech basketball coach Paul Hewitt has prime position for the recruiting of the AJC’s Mr. Basketball.

Hewitt will be the last head coach to make an in-home visit with Westlake’s Marcus Thornton, his family confirmed to the AJC. Hewitt and Thornton will meet face-to-face on Wednesday. The 6-foot-7 Thornton is one of college basketball’s hottest free agents.

The Wednesday slot was originally reserved for Florida coach Billy Donovan, but both sides agreed cancel the visit after power forward Will Yeguete of Melbourne, Fla., committed to the Gators on Tuesday.

Hewitt has always been scheduled as the last coach to meet with Thornton. The two sides were initially going to sit down in Atlanta next week, but decided to bump it up after Thornton ended the recruiting process with Florida.

Wednesday is the last day of NCAA’s contact period, when basketball coaches are permitted to make in-home visits. Thornton could still decide to travel to visit or re-visit certain coaches on his own at a later date, but currently has no future appointments planned.

It appears that Hewitt will be the coach that has the opportunity to make the final impression, which is considered a power position in recruiting. Ironically, it was UGA’s Mark Fox who had the chance for the first impression, meeting in person with Thornton in person last Friday before the rest of the coaching carousel.

What’s the latest with Thornton’s list of colleges? Has he narrowed down any?

Thornton is considering seven schools —  Georgia Tech, UGA, Clemson, Alabama, Kentucky, Texas, and Michigan — after Florida’s exit, his father Billy confirmed to the AJC on Tuesday afternoon. Thornton has also ended flirtations with Memphis, where his former high school teammate Jelan Kendrick signed.

Which school will be the first one Thornton cancels?

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What about favorites? “We want to get through one round of meeting everybody before making any decisions,” the elder Thornton said. “We have two more meetings with colleges (including Michigan coach John Beilein on Tuesday night), and then we’ll sit down as a family and discuss everything.”

Here is how the rest of Thornton’s meet-and-greet schedule has gone over the last five days:

UGA’s Fox on Friday.

Texas coach Rick Barnes on Saturday.

The SEC power couple of Kentucky’s John Calipari and Alabama’s Anthony Grant on Sunday.

Clemson’s newbie, Brad Brownell, on Monday.

Which coach has been most impressive? “They’ve all been good,” the elder Thornton said. “Obviously, we’ve got some tough choices ahead, and we’ll start that process after we finish meeting with everyone.”

Thornton had a monster senior year, averaging 24 points and 12 rebounds, while leading Westlake to the state championship game in Georgia’s largest classification. He committed to Clemson before his junior season, and signed with the Tigers last November. However, Clemson granted Thornton a release from his letter-of-intent after Tigers coach Oliver Purnell was hired away by DePaul. Purnell was the major reason why Thornton had signed with the Tigers.

Also, at Brownell’s former school, Wright State, one of its top basketball recruits (point guard Cory Stanton of Springfield, Tenn.) has requested a release from his letter-of-intent in order to join Brownell at Clemson, according to the Dayton Daily News.

Back to Thornton: What are your predictions for his college choice?


64 comments Add your comment

KevinM

April 20th, 2010
3:34 pm

Tough choice for MT, but even tougher for Clemson to keep him now that others have gotten involved.

Will it be about location and notoriety? Is it about being guaranteed a starting slot?

Florida is good at backing out at the last minute. 2nd time this spring they have changed their mind.

option smoption

April 20th, 2010
3:44 pm

It would be great to get this kid at UGA but I don’t think it will happen yet for Coach Fox.

BuddahChris

April 20th, 2010
3:47 pm

We need him! GO JACKETS!

The Real YellowJacket

April 20th, 2010
3:48 pm

He drops the Dawgs.

Voice of Reason

April 20th, 2010
4:02 pm

One strong consideration for this young man is that Coach Hewitt has failed to produce at a level that should be expected with all the talent he has had. He should have been to the Final Four on several occasions, but hasn’t been the coach everyone thought.
Of the other schools I would has concerns about Calipari’s character. Grant seems to be three or four years away at Bama, but has a good past, Mark Fox has had success where he has been and where he is, and did a trememdous job this year at UGA. Rick Banrnes is someone I have not followed, so don’t feel competent to comment on him, and it seems Brad Brownell has something to prove in a tough conference.
With the teams in the SEC having greater success with each passing year, they aren’t far behind the ACC, if at all now.
Tough decisions. Who will prepare him for the next level with more professionalism, and for life after basketball?

Michael Carvell

April 20th, 2010
4:02 pm

I vote Michigan far and away No. 1, and then Texas. The Thorntons are tight-lipped about everything, but I’m just guessing those two because of distance. They are very close family. At least with the other schools, if you’re not playing for UGA or GaTech, you’re playing a lot of games within 2-3 hours.

sidewalk74

April 20th, 2010
4:10 pm

Yellow Jackets. Go to GT. You know Hewitt can get you to the NBA.

HugoStiglitz

April 20th, 2010
4:15 pm

Coach Hewitt should have been to the final four on several occasions? Thats a load of crap. Regardless of how good your team is, you are never supposed to make the final four. Especially with all young players like Hewitt tends to have. Kentucky had probably the most talented team in the nation this season, and have 5 players going pro and even they didnt make the final four. Its not exactly an easy thing to do.

Michael Carvell

April 20th, 2010
4:20 pm

Sidewalk74: You bring up a good point. Hewitt constantly gets bashed for “failing to produce at a level expected with all the talent he has” … and it may be true. However, what about all the players that have played under Hewitt and gone to the NBA? You could debate what they may or may have not learned under Hewitt, but the fact remains — they are in the NBA. And when you really get down to it, what is the dream of every kid who ever picked up a basketball? Bottom line: NBA. Is that realistic for every recruit, or even the majority of recruits? NO WAY, the stats prove it. But kids will always dream. If I was Hewitt, I’d be playing the NBA card all day in the living room of recruits, and I’m sure he does.

jackets rock

April 20th, 2010
4:23 pm

Voice of reason, you have got to be kidding, mark fox had success where he is? Tremendous job? Answer me this, at which GA school would you get the superior education? How many players does uga put in the NBA? Where did uga finish this year? The past several years? Have they really EVER been good? MOST OF HEWITT’S TALENT MADE IT TO THE NBA, THOUGH, DIDN’T THEY?????????

Russ

April 20th, 2010
4:26 pm

Tech fans don’t even want Paul Hewitt as head coach.

This from Tech fan Chris Boggs at the AJC Tech fan blog “Ramble On”:

“I’m not going to lie . . . I was hoping Coach Hewitt would take the St. John’s job.

I wasn’t hoping he would leave because I dislike him. I think he’s a stand up guy and have no ill will for him.

I just think it was the perfect time for both Hewitt and Georgia Tech to part ways with both saving some face and moving forward to new starts.

Financially this would have been the best solution for the Jackets. They would have avoided the big buy out of Hewitt’s contract and its likely St. Johns would have stepped up and helped Hewitt pay any money owed the Institute for leaving.

But alas…that didn’t happen.”

jackets rock

April 20th, 2010
4:27 pm

One or two more years like fox just had and uga will be looking for a new coach.

jackets rock

April 20th, 2010
4:33 pm

Hewitt has done a great job at GT. You can’t make it to the title game like he did a couple years back every year. He is a great recruiter and, like Carvell said, he gets his guys to the NBA. Ever heard of Jack, Crittenton, Young, Bosh, Morrow, West, Favors, Lawal, etc.?????

DukeBlue

April 20th, 2010
4:33 pm

jackets rock….why is that?

MARIO

April 20th, 2010
4:38 pm

GT all the way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jasont13

April 20th, 2010
4:47 pm

Why not UGA, if he is worthy of getting a chance to play in the NBA, the scouts will find him.

jasont13

April 20th, 2010
4:49 pm

jackets rock, you keep saying Hewitt gets kids to the NBA. No the kids get themselves to the NBA. Most one and dones only go got college because they have too. GT just happens to play in a good conference. If he was such a great coach then why do most of GT fans call for his head and constantly refer to him as Coach Blewit?

KD

April 20th, 2010
4:53 pm

Attention Jackets Rock, her are your answers to your questions. 1.Yes 2.Yes 3.Both 4.A lot more than Techies(even though I don’t follow tech bb that much-how many bb players actually get a degree from tech,I bet less from UGA. 5. A great improvement from last year with basically the same players. 6.Can’t control the Harrick fiasco. 7. Hewitt gets MOST of his players to the NBA, like who, Lawal& Favors could make tothe NBA if I was coaching them. I hope this answers your questions.

Jacket Backer

April 20th, 2010
4:59 pm

not sure if we’ll get him but its very doubtful he goes to ga……top basketball talent is not interested in that school….fox will find out soon enough and move on to a better job….

Go Jackets….

KD

April 20th, 2010
5:02 pm

All you jacket people keep talking about Fox leaving Uga and he just got here and all of you hat Hewitt, but all you talk about is UGA coaches. It doesn’t make since to me.

wiley

April 20th, 2010
5:11 pm

Not entirely true Jason13…Hewitt has improved several players into NBA players….particularly during his early to mid years at Georgia Tech. Jarret Jack, Anthony Morrow, and Mario West for example. He can get you to the league…that’s what he is best known for. The problem he has is losing games on the college level and cant hold onto the highly touted players in order for them to develop. Our one and done dilemma is not just a problem that Georgia Tech is dealing with….look at Kentucky, Texas, Baylor, and Wake Forest among many others. The rule is hurting alot of big time programs…and yes Tech is a big time program because of their conference and talent level…sorry doggies your not even close yet. I think Fox can get you to a new level though.

BN

April 20th, 2010
5:20 pm

He’d be guaranteed a starting position in his sophomore year at Alabama. Alabama’s up tempo style would show his athleticism. It’d be great for him to come to ttown and play for Anthony Grant.

GIVE ME A BREAK

April 20th, 2010
5:25 pm

Can’t wait for “FOOTBALL.” GO JACKETS!!!!!

Keith

April 20th, 2010
5:33 pm

Sorry to say UGA fans but it makes no difference how good coach Fox is your basketball program will never get the talent to take you to the next level. Look at where you are located, not only do you compete with GT for recruits you have to compete with Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, and if their good enough UNC and Duke. No way top talent will chose to play at UGA over any of these programs. That is a fact.

PN

April 20th, 2010
5:51 pm

With my apologies to the UGA children chiming in who are new to college basketball — Paul Hewitt, for all of his deficiencies as an offensive coach, is a FANTASTIC recruiter and an even better coach at grooming good basketball players into NBA talent. I’m not just talking about guys like Chris Bosh, Thaddeus Young, Jarrett Jack, etc. I am talking about guys like Will Bynum and Anthony Morrow. To say that Hewitt will not be a good coach for him to make the leap to the next level shows both your bitterness for having a miserable program and nothing more than an over-hyped coached and your general lack of knowledge (which is a forgone conclusion of course). With that said, if this kid is a One-and-Done…UGA can have him as far as I’m concerned.

Keith

April 20th, 2010
5:59 pm

PN he is not a one and done. He will be around 3 yrs like Lawal was IMO.

Jonnie 5

April 20th, 2010
6:01 pm

UGA has a basketball team?

[...] Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal Constitution posted an update on Georgia Mr. Basketball Marcus Thornton’s recruitment this afternoon. [...]

Michael Carvell

April 20th, 2010
6:28 pm

Keith: I agree. Marcus Thornton is no “one-and-done.” He’s raw but with unlimited potential. I’d say a four-year player at this point, subject to change after two years.

BN: My gut instinct tells me Alabama is the darkhorse. Thornton has known Grant the longest out of all the coaches currently recruiting him.

collegeballfan

April 20th, 2010
6:28 pm

Mr Thornton, the father, please counsel your son NOT to pick a college based on the coach. You see where that got you when you signed with Clemson. Understand, you sign with a school, not a coach. Read the contract.

Advantage he would have at Tech; possible instant starter by replacing a guy going as a lottery pick to the NBA. Disadvantage at Tech, are you better than the other 3 “big” men at Tech?

dap01

April 20th, 2010
6:35 pm

Would you want to play for Hewitt at GA Tech?

Does Alabama have cable TV yet?

jp dawg

April 20th, 2010
6:42 pm

so is UGA putting players in the NBA or is it the coach? I don’t think any players been drafted because of their school. They usually get drafted because of their talent. And if you want examples of Fox developing talent in his 4 year coaching career than it’s far better than what Hewitt has done in the past 4 years. Favors was considered the #2 player in the country last year and now he is slated to go 4th or 5th in the upcoming draft. Lawal last year was considered a sure fire lottery pick according to NBADraft.net but now is just a fringe first rounders. Shumpert was also considered a sure fire first round pick and is no longer considered so.

So how has Hewitt exactly developed players? it seems that Fox has taken three players who were never considered NBAers(Luke Babbitt, Nick Fazekas and Ramon Sessions) and turned them into future NBAers. That’s the mark of a good coach, a coach that takes players with less talent and turns them around into future stars

Brian F.

April 20th, 2010
6:42 pm

Michael, can UGA sign Polee & Thornton? Do they have 2 scholarships available?

Delbert D.

April 20th, 2010
6:42 pm

I find it interesting that in basketball, potential recruits are referred to as “free agents.” The NCAA and NBA really need to work out something. Stop the charade with one-and-done “student athletes.” Hewitt is a serial offender in this corrupt system.

PN

April 20th, 2010
6:54 pm

Fox has turned 3 players who were never considered NBAers and turned them into “future” NBAers? You’re right. Paul Hewitt has never done that. Because he actually turns them into NBAers. Will Bynum? NBA. Anthony Morrow? NBA. Mario West? NBA. Several others who have spent time in the dNBA and have had shots on NBA squads.

Again, you will meet no one more critical of Paul Hewitt than myself. However, when you are spouting off BS just because he’s the coach of Georgia Tech, you make yourself look like the uneducated ass that you are.

And in defense of Paul Hewitt, he just went 23-13, lost by 4 points in the last minute to the eventual national champions in the ACC CG and went to the second round of the tourney…and that is considered a down year and his head was on the block. I can only imagine how you guys would soak through your Wranglers if you could finish above .500 for just one season.

Big Blue News » Blog Archiv

April 20th, 2010
7:03 pm

[...] visited Marcus Thornton on Sunday and UK is one of seven schools he’s [...]

Old Fashioned

April 20th, 2010
7:14 pm

I fervently hope that he DOESN’T enroll for classes at my beloved Georgia Tech! I prefer instead that we build a program with athletes who are truly STUDENT-athletes—actually interested in attending classes for four years,studying/working hard,maturing intellectually,and preparing themselves for life after sports. I am sick of the one-and-doners. If he comes to GT,please,someone,REQUIRE that he attend Spring 2011 classes and show real academic progress in order to play that semester. Otherwise,the whole thing will just be a charade,with the joke on Tech. And Hewitt will be once again guilty of exploiting a young man for Coach’s benefit. GO SOMEWHERE ELSE!!!!

Cascade

April 20th, 2010
7:36 pm

If Marcus goes to Tech, he will lead them to a title.

Johnny FuPa

April 20th, 2010
8:25 pm

momma said

April 20th, 2010
8:37 pm

This kid will be a WildCat IMO.

GT Fan

April 20th, 2010
8:47 pm

I’ve been a GT fan for 50 years and I wouldn’t let my kid play for Hewitt. I love GT and support all programs but Hewitt’s. Kids that make the NBA do it own their own, not because of Hewitt. That’s why they’re usually one and done players. Rads need to get off his A@@ and Fire Hewitt.

GT65

April 20th, 2010
8:55 pm

PH, you sound like the uneducated ass ! Hewitt is a joke of a coach and as long as he’s around his support drops……

GT65

April 20th, 2010
8:57 pm

Thats PN not PH.

Dennis

April 20th, 2010
8:57 pm

Old fashioned, this kid is a top student, 3.7 GPA. A previous article mentioned him studying for AP Calculus, he is no slouch in the classroom. Tech is an ideal place for him both school-wise & basketball-wise. Gani was good but not great coming out of high school, Hewitt helped him become a potential first rounder. He would also be close to his family which seems to be important. The deal with Anthony Grant is that he knows him, BUT, this is Grant’s first season and there will likely be an adjustment period for Grant. Kentucky’s a bit too far away. The kid was going to go to Clemson which is in easy driving distance, Kentucky is not. But, the lure of playing right way for Calipari is tough, and he’ll have an elite point guard on the team in Brandon Knight, so they could grow together. My money is GA Tech, Kentucky & UGA are the top 3. It’s then between GA Tech & Kentucky, with Tech winning. Just one man’s guess…

[...] visited Marcus Thornton on Sunday and UK is one of seven schools he’s [...]

bank walker

April 20th, 2010
9:23 pm

He’s a DAWG, and will help lead UGA to it’s first NCAA title!!!

PN

April 20th, 2010
9:36 pm

GT65, I am extremely uneducated. Again, I think Paul Hewitt is a horrible coach and I was really pulling for St. Johns. But as much as I dislike him, you cannot discount his ability to recruit and place players in the NBA. That does not imply nor make him a good coach, it just means that he is a great recruiter and able to place kids in the NBA. And I referenced a list of recent players who are in the NBA after playing 4 years for Hewitt and whom were never considered NBA talent. But that’s fine, try to put me down and flail your arms in the sky like a whining girl because Paul Hewitt is so horrible. Idiot.

GooseDawg

April 20th, 2010
9:40 pm

Sounds like Marcus is a family first kinda dude which goes a long way in my book. I say one sly Fox makes a big impression on Mom & Dad & the young man helps put HIS state university’s basketball progam on the national radar during the upcoming years!

PN

April 20th, 2010
9:54 pm

One thing we can all agree on, it is definitely cute the hope UGA fans have. I just want to pinch their cheeks and roll their quarterback’s ankle after a play!

Michael Carvell

April 20th, 2010
10:25 pm

Brian: Yes, UGA has two scholarships available. The AJC’s UGA beat reporter, Tim Tucker, addressed this with basketball coach Mark Fox recently …

Fox has two scholarships still available –- and would be willing to use both this spring. “For the right two guys, we would,” he said.

Fox, of course, can’t comment on specific recruits. But Georgia, as you know, is prominently in the mix for Los Angeles’ Dwayne Polee and Westlake’s Marcus Thornton.

http://blogs.ajc.com/uga-sports-blog/2010/04/17/ugas-pope-headed-to-wake-forest-as-assistant-coach-and-other-notes/