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.
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.
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.