The AJC’s Mr. Basketball narrows down to UGA, Georgia Tech, Alabama and Texas

Looking Good: UGA made the final four, and Fox still has chance to score more points with AJC's Mr. Basketball during upcoming visit (AJC)

Looking Good: UGA in Marcus Thornton's final four, and Mark Fox still has chance to score more points with AJC's Mr. Basketball during upcoming visit (AJC)

Georgia Tech and UGA are among the four finalists for the AJC’s Mr. Basketball, Westlake High’s Marcus Thornton revealed on Thursday night.

Alabama and a surprise school (Texas) are among in Thornton’s short list of finalists. He eliminated Clemson, Kentucky, and Michigan from consideration, and plans on signing by May 21.

“To the other schools that offered scholarships, I want to say thanks for your time and consideration,” Thornton said in an email. “It was an honor to be recruited by those universities.

“There was nothing wrong with any of the other colleges. They are all great. Unfortunately, in the recruiting process, you can only pick one (school), and it has been very challenging to narrow down the list, and I expect it to continue being that way over the next few weeks. However, I feel very blessed to have the opportunities.”

The big early winners with Thornton are in-state schools Georgia Tech and UGA, both of which did not offer scholarships before he signed with Clemson last November. However, Thornton had a monster senior year, averaging 24 points and 12 rebounds while leading Westlake High to the championship game in Georgia’s largest classification. He was honored as the AJC’s Mr. Basketball for being the state’s No. 1 player. He also is an Honor Student with a 3.7 GPA.

The 6-foot-7 Thornton was released from his Clemson letter-of-intent last month after Tigers coach Oliver Purnell was hired away by DePaul. Purnell was a main factor in Clemson landing Thornton.

The winner for AJC's Mr. Basketball?

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Thornton is in the process of setting up visits to Georgia Tech and UGA within the next 10 days. He has already made trips to Alabama and Texas.

“We have been looking at things such as academics, player development, style of play, program tradition and stability, and how I ’see myself’ fitting into their basketball program as well as the overall university,” Thornton said. “It has been an educational, but long and challenging process.”

Thornton reportedly made phone calls to inform the runner-up schools by Thursday evening. “I really appreciate all of the interest and the time the coaches have spent recruiting me,” he said. ” I also appreciate the support of all of my friends and family, and all of the other people out there who have been wishing me well.”

Thornton graduates from Westlake on May 21, and will announce a winner on or before that date to get an early start on college in June.

Hewitt (AJC)

Hewitt: Pick me! (AJC)

Alabama’s Anthony Grant has the longest established relationship with Thornton out of the four finalists, if that counts for anything. Texas was considered a longshot at the beginning, but has made tremendous strides under coach Rick Barnes. However, distance could be a factor with Texas.

YOUR TURN: What are your thoughts on Thornton’s final four? Which in-state school do you think has a better chance — UGA or Georgia Tech? And why? Please state your case below.

107 comments Add your comment

Dixie Clear

May 6th, 2010
9:58 pm

program tradition pretty much rules out uga…..

Goldtimer

May 6th, 2010
9:59 pm

Sorry Mutts – It’s all Tech with this kid. No way no how does he sign with the second rate school in the state unless he wants to lose to Tech every year.

wiley

May 6th, 2010
10:02 pm

Come to Georgia Tech! We play in the ACC and we have a track record of getting players to the next level.

Chuck Uga

May 6th, 2010
10:07 pm

Good grief…Alabama? What the heck does he see over there? Hopefully he will see the basketball development facility in Athens along with a coach that will be there for years to come (unlike Tech’s).

Diamond Dog's Parole Officer

May 6th, 2010
10:08 pm

UGA’s basketball tradition? WTH? They’re more known for Jim Harrick Jr’s course for athletes.

Hello

May 6th, 2010
10:08 pm

Hey Tech fans, what do think of Paul Hewett? Happy he’s your coach?

P

May 6th, 2010
10:08 pm

Ga. Tech probably…or Texas. Why would he go with UGA or Alabame?

H.S. Coach

May 6th, 2010
10:10 pm

Goldtimer, can you refresh my memory and tell me who won this years annual game between UGA and Tech in mens basketball?

[...] forward Marcus Thornton has eliminated Michigan from his list and will decide between UGA, Georgia Tech, Alabama and Texas per Michael Carvell of  the AJC. The [...]

Reggie

May 6th, 2010
10:17 pm

Bama is not the most redneck state in the confederate? LOL!!!

THWG!!!

May 6th, 2010
10:22 pm

Ga Tech’s coach will be there for years to come also!!! Any Mutts remember that he has a golden contract!!! You must not be very up to speed Chuck UGA!!!

cdog

May 6th, 2010
10:22 pm

marcus please sign with georgia bulldogs.you can be part of something special coming with the bulldog program.coach fox will give you the coaching to propel you to the next level in life and in basketball.

Bama Bill

May 6th, 2010
10:29 pm

Marcus, Coach Grant will build a solid and successful basketball program – why not be a part of the success?

Cracker Jacket

May 6th, 2010
10:32 pm

Coaching pretty much rules out GT !

Dr. Phil

May 6th, 2010
10:36 pm

Goldtimer…does that mean losing to Georgia this year with all that wasted talent! Get real! Tech will be the laughing stock of the ACC!!!!How’s that working for you!

Scott

May 6th, 2010
10:45 pm

I wouldn’t call getting to the ACC championship game and the second round of the NCAAs wasted talent… how’d Georgia do in the postseason?

UGA? LOL

May 6th, 2010
10:45 pm

Since 1980 GT has 16 1st round NBA picks, good for 3rd in the entire country behind only UNC and Duke. UGA is a joke in basketball. Stick to the 8-5 football juggernaut.

Scott

May 6th, 2010
10:46 pm

Marcus: Last year’s Mr. Georgia Basketball came to Tech, and he’s about to be a top-5 pick. Come play on the big stage, in the ACC, for a program that can get you to the NBA.

Worm

May 6th, 2010
10:54 pm

Player development is not a Tech strong suit..Chris Bosh, Stephon Marbury, and the one and dones did not help themselves with a year on the Flats..For the total college expierence come to UGA..Don’t go somewhere to be coached “Down”.

SEC Basketball

May 6th, 2010
11:16 pm

He has a chance to be with a program on the upswing with Mark Fox who will be at UGA and says a lot about him when his two best players stay and do not try the NBA. Favors was not coached up by Hewitt. He is leaving because of the talent he already had and knows Tech will be struggling going forward. Best of luck to him wherever he goes because the kid looks as if he is as class act in the classroom and out. He would make the dogs a sleeper in the SEC next year!!!!

Upstate Dawg

May 6th, 2010
11:17 pm

UGA & GT have been very equal on the hardwood since going to a home & home series. In fact, UGA leads. When’s the last time GT beat UGA in Athens? Hint, it was before GT’s entry into the ACC.

Face it Techsters, UGA is on the rise while you are grumbling about needing a new coach. Marcus, hop on board the Bulldog Express!

Dawg 1

May 6th, 2010
11:20 pm

Ah Goldtimer – you might want to check the head to head few years. We have struggled with our basketball program, but somehow we managed to to win against the Jackets. If your going to talk trash, at least get your fact right.

Usually stay out of the fray – but after a while the arrogance from you guys gets a little old..

wiley

May 6th, 2010
11:21 pm

Worm…what about Anthony Morrow, and Mario West? Hewitt can coach them up too.

W/E

May 6th, 2010
11:21 pm

Good job NOT going to Calisleezy at Kentucky Marcus. You are a man of integrity

HugoStiglitz

May 6th, 2010
11:26 pm

He is an honor student so he probably cares somewhat about academics. That basically makes it between GT and Texas.

Jason

May 6th, 2010
11:27 pm

Cool Upstate Dawg. We still made the NCAA tourney multiple including playing in the national championship in 04 while UGA finishes last in the SEC every year.

Only at UGA you could go 14-17 and be on the rise. LMAO!!!!

DaveDawg

May 6th, 2010
11:32 pm

Hewitt a coach – you have to be kidding. He rolls the basketball on the floor and goes and looks at his blackberry. Look what Coach Fox did with Travis Leslie and Trey Tompkins in one year. Both will be lottery picks in 2011. If Marcus wants to improve his skills, he will let Coach Fox work with him. I can’t remember, who won the Georgia vs Tech basketball game this year? Oh yeah – UGA. All that talent and Tech can’t even beat a team from the lowly SEC!

Tdawg

May 6th, 2010
11:36 pm

BAMA4238, you know how Bama is always building something special? But when ever they get that something special they always get caught cheating. Yes Marcus if you want to go to a school that is famous for cheating then by all means go to Alabama. But I got a better idea. How about being one of the few Georgia high school graduates that stay in state and help build the Georgia programs up for once. BAMA fans calling Georgia a back woods state. Wow you people must not have mirrors in Alabama. Just curious. Why would you guy’s want a player from a backward state?

come on

May 6th, 2010
11:37 pm

You keep claiming what Fox has done with talent but he had a losing record and finished in last place! What exactly did he do with that talent? The only thing he did was beat Georgia Tech, Illinois, and UT….but you also lost to Wofford. Georgia Tech was a tourney team last year and UGA cant say that. When was UGA’s last at large bid?? anyone know.

hunker down

May 6th, 2010
11:41 pm

Buzzed , not true about Derrick Favors. Don’t let my name fool you I am a huge Dawg fan in football but show alliance to Tech in basketball. I went to a college without a football program and truly like both schools. I always pull for the other program when not playing head to head in both sports.

In Favors situation he was a truly special player. One of the highest profile players ever coming out of HS. CPH is a great recruiter. I think he is somewhat like Cremmins not the best x’s n O’s type guy but can recruit. The ACC is certainly a premeir conference in basketball and attracts alot of players to what to play in such an elite conference. However, CPH has had only one winning conference record in the ACC in several years. In my humble opinion he made a great run and took Tech to the championship game in 2003 and got a favorable contract after that season with a huge payout if he is fired with a rollover renewal set every year. As far as GT performance, well, it has been disappointing ever since that magic year. I wonder if CPH would still be at Tech if not for his contract. I think he has underachieved with the talent he has had at Tech.

As far as Coach Fox goes. I was some what disappointed when he was originally hired. I was concerned that he could not lead UGA back to prominience in the SEC. He has proven me wrong and I think he will build a program at UGA.

I hope Thorton stays in state and plays for one of the home state two teams. I wish him well regardless and hope he stays healthy. What really impresses me about this young man is that he seems to recognize that his talent is God given and very appreciative for his opportunities. A 3.7 gpa tells me alot of the character of the individual. His priorities are in order and I think that he most likely represents a caoches dream both on and off the court. He speaks very well and humble even with all his tremdous talent. I am impressed and wish him the best and know God and his heart will lead him to where he belongs.

Voice of Reason

May 6th, 2010
11:43 pm

The arrogance and jealousy of Tech fans, and I know it is not all but just the idiot fringe, is astounding. Here is a smart, classy young man, mature beyond his years, making a calculated decision about his future. He knows what went on with Tech’s “one and out” pick and his plans on going pro after one year. He knows that Hewitt is a fine individual who will not be at Tech much longer. Hewitt has had way too much talent that he could not coach up.
I hope that whatever decision Marcus Thornton makes turns out to the right one and I am sure he will make the most of it. I also hope that he goes to UGA to help Mark Fox in what he is trying to accomplish, but if not, he will be an asset to wherever he goes in more than just basketball.
Good luck Marcus Thornton and congratulations for being such a mature and classy young man. Obviously a good upbringing by good parents.

Hoops Dawg

May 7th, 2010
12:02 am

Good God folks, let the kid make a decision that suits him. Most of the pleading I see on this blog would tend to turn off a bright kid like MT and serves as bad press for your respective student bodies. Having said this, I feel quite certain that no one in their right mind would have an important life decision in any way influenced by the drivel I’ve seen here.

zeke

May 7th, 2010
12:06 am

THE USC, SOUTH CAROLINA THAT IS!

Dannyboy

May 7th, 2010
12:08 am

As a Tech fan, just wanted to say that I’ve been impressed by the way Marcus and his family has conducted themselves throughout this process. Marcus seems like a very mature and well spoken young man…that’s a credit to his parents. I hope you end up on the Flats, but whichever lucky school you choose to attend will be getting a good player and an even greater young man. Good luck, Marcus!

observor

May 7th, 2010
12:13 am

The academic arrogance perspective is so humorous now. UGA is currently ranked as the 58th best University in the entire country (public and private), and is extremely difficult to get in to now. Unless your HS GPA is at least 3.5 with a SAT score of 1200+ (Math and Verbal….not including the new writing component), there is no need to apply now.

Additionally, if you want to go into journalism, business, law, pharmacy, or any of the agricultural sciences, you would be much better served to go to UGA. If you want Engineering, CS, Physics, or Chemistry, go to GT. Something tells me that Thornton isn’t interested in being an engineer, physicist, or chemist.

UGA_2001

May 7th, 2010
12:23 am

The funniest comment in all of this was the Bammer calling GA a redneck, backwoods state. LMAO.

Joe

May 7th, 2010
12:33 am

If he goes to Texas they are gonna win the national championship cause Texas has a great class coming in this year already.

UGDawwg

May 7th, 2010
12:53 am

Funny how you Tech nerds have such a short memory. Care to share with us how your ULTRA TALENTED squad did last year in Athens vs. our young, developing squad under a 1st year head coach??? Guess what, we didn’t lose hardly anybody, while you guys were gutted. We are gonna come into that ugly tit ya’ll call an arena and whip your tails in your own back yard just like we did in football! TO HELL WITH TECH!

HugoStiglitz

May 7th, 2010
2:25 am

observer, nice try but not many people are going to put UGA and GT on the same page in academics. Lets compare it this way.

GT 35th in the country, UGA 58th.
GT 7th public school in the country, UGA 21st.
GT Business School ranked 26th, UGA Business School ranked 59th.
GT top 5 engineering.
GT is an AAU member.
GT graduates make more money on average after graduation.

I could probably go on with more stats but I cant find anymore for UGA. Im sure you get the point. If academics are important to him then the choice is obvious. If he only cares about basketball then GT is even more of an obvious choice. There are 7 current NBA players that came from GT. That ranks us 9th overall and that will grow next year when Lawal, and Favors join the league. Paul Hewitt will explain all of this to him and the choice will be clear. Although Texas can make a pretty strong case as well.

Jason

May 7th, 2010
2:35 am

Haha UGA isn’t beating GT at AMC anytime soon….

observor

May 7th, 2010
2:58 am

If you honestly think that 35 and 58 is a significant difference in national rankings, then you are a statistical moron.

I noticed how you failed to mention the fact that UGA Agg. E grads have a higher rate of passing on the PE exam then Tech grads do. Man, that must be a kick in the teeth since that is your exclusive focus and we still best you at that.

You also failed to mention that if you have any interest at all in education, the arts, social sciences, or veterinary medicine, then you should avoid tech at all costs.

As a final thought, lets also note that UGA completely destroys tech in the RMI (risk management and insurance), MIS, and real estate.

Once again, if you want to study business, law, pharmacy, veterinary science, journalism, social science, or education, go to UGA. If you want to study engineering, math, physics, chemistry, or anti-social disorder, go to tech.

Prison Mike

May 7th, 2010
2:58 am

At Bama residents calling GA backwoods of all things. Tom Foolery at its pinnacle.

I prefer him to go to Tech because he’ll have a redshirt freshman coming off of knee surgery for pt. If not stay instate and go to UGA but Thompkins staying should have an effect on early pt…

UGASlobberknocker

May 7th, 2010
6:07 am

What are you huys talking about? The Dawgs have a long basketball tradition…yes, it’s all bad and it seems longer than it has been, but it’s still tradition.

Seriously, UGA isnt getting him or any other star if past excellence in the program is any criteria..we need people who want to be a part of turning this ship around. Also, it always kills me when these really good guys say that academics is a consideration. Who do they think they are fooling? NBA prep is the only course they care about. so spare me, please.

just facts

May 7th, 2010
6:35 am

Who cares. I am a tech fan but am so tired of hewitt, who cares. If we sign him we will win 18 and losing record in acc. If we don’t sign him we will win 16 games with a losing record in acc. WHO CARES?

KYBLUEGRASS

May 7th, 2010
6:38 am

Who cares? This kid is not that good!

just facts

May 7th, 2010
6:44 am

Hunker down… You said that u initially had concerns about mark fox leading uga back to prominence in the SEC. Could u please tell us when UGA bb and the word prominence had ever been used in the same setence?
I have to give you credit though…. That was really funny … I am assuming it was meant as a joke!

dawgerbrown

May 7th, 2010
6:54 am

Coach Fox is gonna do great things at UGA. You can be part of something big, but also start a trend of the best players in Ga. staying in state. Hewitt always has talent, and underachieves. Be a leader, and help establish a new tradition at the University of Georgia. Now that the kid from California is going to St. Johns, the door is wide open.

[...] Michael Carvell of the AJC reports that Marcus Thornton has eliminated Kentucky: “Georgia Tech and UGA are among the four finalists for the AJC’s Mr. Basketball, Westlake High’s Marcus Thornton revealed on Thursday night. Alabama and a surprise school (Texas) are among in Thornton’s short list of finalists. He eliminated Clemson, Kentucky, and Michigan from consideration, and plans on signing by May 21.” [...]

jackyldo

May 7th, 2010
7:25 am

Honor student with a 3.7 GPA ,,,, hopefully not a 1 and done kid.. Get your degree, and 4 years of maturity under your belt,, then look at future vs. a 3 or 4 year stint in the NBA. They’ll sti;; be around and chewing through talent ..

Gordon

May 7th, 2010
7:35 am

Go to UGA Marcus. Maybe that will be a wake up call to the powers that be at Tech that Hewitt needs to go. We would love to have you under normal circumstances, but we have a bigger problem that needs to be solved first. You will help both Tech and UGA if you go to UGA.