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.
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?