AJC’s Mr. Basketball meets NBA celebrity during Texas visit, prepping for UGA and Georgia Tech visits

Texas is the darkhouse school in the sweepstakes for the AJC's Mr. Basketball. Texas coach Rick Barnes guided the Longhorns to their first-ever No. 1 ranking in 2010, but they lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament (AP photo)

Texas is the darkhouse school in the sweepstakes for the AJC's Mr. Basketball. Texas coach Rick Barnes guided the Longhorns to their first-ever No. 1 ranking in 2010, but they lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament (AP photo)

The AJC’s Mr. Basketball got to meet one of his “all-time favorite basketball players” during his recruiting trip to Texas.

Westlake High’s Marcus Thornton has narrowed down to four schools, and has visited Alabama and Texas. He is expected to travel to UGA and Georgia Tech this week and announce his college decision by  May 21.

When Thornton went to Texas last Monday, he got to meet and greet T.J. Ford, guard for the NBA’s Indiana Pacers.

It was really exciting having him spend much of the morning with me just talking about the kind of things you should be looking for in college recruiting.

“ It was really exciting having him spend much of the morning with me just talking about the kind of things you should be looking for in college recruiting,” Thornton said in an email.

“I was really impressed that so many of former Texas players (in the NBA) come back to UT to train in the summer.  Guys like Kevin Durant, T. J. Ford, D. J. Augustine and LaMarcus Aldridge are (donating) money so that they can have their own locker room at Texas during the summer.”

The 6-foot-7 Thornton has declined to name a leader among his finalists, saying his wants to finish his visits. Texas was considered a longshot for Thornton, but the Longhorns appear to be gaining ground in a hurry.

Texas is much farther away from home than Thornton’s three other remaining schools. What about that? ”Distance from home is not as much a factor for me as people think. As a matter of fact, it can be helpful by getting you out of your comfort zone and helping you grow up more quickly.”

What about the reputation that Texas has for being a “football-only” school?

Which school would give Marcus Thornton the best chance of winning?

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“We were concerned that Texas might be basically a football school,” said Thornton’s father, Billy. “The school president told us that he attends almost all of the basketball home games.  I was impressed that Texas (basketball) had all of the staff, equipment and facilities that you could ever ask for.”

The 6-foot-7 Thornton is one of college basketball’s hottest free agents after a monster senior year at Westlake. He averaged 24 points and 12 rebounds, while leading his team to the championship game of the state’s largest classification. Thornton was selected as the AJC’s Mr. Basketball for being Georgia’s No. 1 player this past season.

YOUR OPINION: Do you think Texas really has a chance? Please post below.

30 comments Add your comment

Tdawg

May 9th, 2010
9:53 pm

Just stay in state kid.

Joe

May 9th, 2010
9:55 pm

Marcus, Texas has had plenty of great players and Barnes has proven capable of winning NOTHING. He also disrespected on of the greatest gentlemen the college game has ever known, Dean Smith, when he was at Clemson.

You should go to Athens and help establish a legacy for players from the state of Georgia, for your family and for Coach Fox.

@DanWeiner

May 9th, 2010
10:00 pm

Hmmm, two in state schools who hardly make the tournament, a neighboring state with an up and down tournament history or a team that at least makes the field every year…hmmm I guess his decision will say a lot about how much he wants to win.

jp dawg

May 9th, 2010
10:04 pm

Marcus probably doesn’t care much for your opinions more than likely.

But however he should go to UGA because of the opportunity afforded to him. He has a chance to be the star once Trey and Travis leave. He has a chance to be the leader also in just his sophmore year. Plus we all know from Fox’s history at Nevada that he can put players in the NBA and can coach.

Come to Athens Marcus, we could use ya

cole

May 9th, 2010
10:12 pm

thornton. we need ya baby!!! with the nucleus of thompkins and leslie and yourself we could cause some major damage in the sec…u would be an awesome addition to the dawgs!! mark fox wasnt a glamorous hire and i had my doubts at first. but from watchin 1st hand last year i think mark fox has a wonderful basketball mind and i really believe he has our program headed in the right direction. the addition of a player with your skill set would give him the ammunition to shoot up the national ranking polls…help revitalize the basketball tradition of the RED & BLACK!!!

Diamond Dog's Parole Officer

May 9th, 2010
10:30 pm

Yes Marcus, heed Joe’s stated advice above.

Go to a school where athletes are allowed to storm the field after scoring a touchdown… With their HC’s blessings. After scoring a touchdown to a team that has beaten them 17 out of the last 20 years.

Yes, that’s RESPECT….

Dixie Clear

May 9th, 2010
11:05 pm

uga has a basketball team?

JJ

May 9th, 2010
11:15 pm

yea they do. Sec champs 2 years ago and haven’t lost to Tech at home in quite some time.

cdog

May 9th, 2010
11:21 pm

marcus thornton, anyone can out on a show then when you get there its not what it is.stop messing around and sign with uga now.

If UR smart

May 9th, 2010
11:34 pm

Dude, UGa is a football school. Plus you don’t seem the type that wants to play in a barn. Bama is nothing but a football school. If you go to Tech, you’ll have to carry a weapon to get back and forth from class. Go to Texas. You said it yourself, get a way from home and grow up. Plus you rattled off four former ‘horns that come back to show love and are donating to the program. And no one can argue that Austin is a great college town.

CHAMPS

May 10th, 2010
12:11 am

Tech is the best combo of academics and hoops. Texas will likely undergo a coaching change in less than a year. Georgia doesn’t have a men’s basketball team. Alabama is a football school — they don’t give a crap about hoops.

CitizenK9

May 10th, 2010
2:36 am

Nobody does less with more than Barnes and Hewitt. They are slick recruiters but couldn’t coach flies to a dump. Go to UGA and be a hero in the state as Fox leads the Dawgs to national power status.

Ty

May 10th, 2010
5:45 am

Marcus please come to Bama. We need u and u won’t
have to wait for playing time.

dawgerbrown

May 10th, 2010
7:16 am

Marcus, you can be part of a great, new program at UGA. But consider this, there is life after basketball, even after the NBA. You will be much more marketable, and have many more opportunities to earn a substantial income in your home state if you stay in state and play college ball. Companies would much rather have a former UGA star after his NBA career representing them, rather than a former Texas or Bama player. Far as Tech is concerned, Hewitt does nothing with the talent he recruits. Get away from home, but be close enough for friends and family to watch you play and become a DAWG!

Rantanamo

May 10th, 2010
7:29 am

I not a huge Rick Barnes fan, but Texas has never been as talented as last year’s Georgia Tech squad. There is usually 1 or 2 future pros on the squad, but never the assembled talent that a Kansas Duke or Carolina, or even Kentucky had last year. If Thorton comes to Texas he’ll be part of the most talented team Barnes has ever had.

[...] Michaell Carvell of the AJC reports that Marcus Thornton will announce May 21: “Westlake High’s Marcus Thornton has narrowed down to four schools, and has visited Alabama and Texas. He is expected to travel to UGA and Georgia Tech this week and announce his college decision by May 21. When Thornton went to Texas last Monday, he got to meet and greet T.J. Ford, guard for the NBA’s Indiana Pacers. [...]

[...] Michaell Carvell of the AJC reports that Marcus Thornton will announce May 21: “Westlake High’s Marcus Thornton has narrowed down to four schools, and has visited Alabama and Texas. He is expected to travel to UGA and Georgia Tech this week and announce his college decision by May 21. When Thornton went to Texas last Monday, he got to meet and greet T.J. Ford, guard for the NBA’s Indiana Pacers. [...]

SEC Basketball

May 10th, 2010
9:21 am

Marcus, we would love to see you in Athens. The facilities are great and the Steg. is being upgraded also. You would get instant playing time and put us in contention this year and beyond. Other players would follow and you would be one of the ones known for bringing UGA basketball back. Stay in your home state where all of us and your family can see you play. As you can see be the job Mark fox did this year the program is on the rise. Nobody looked forward to playing UGA and this year will be even better. We would love to see you a Bulldog but best to you whatever you decide to do!!!!

Eric

May 10th, 2010
9:32 am

I thought that having former professional players help recruit was a NCAA violation.

Jason

May 10th, 2010
9:42 am

Isn’t it illegal to utilize former student-athletes or alumni in recruiting, especially direct contact on an official visit? Apparently not.

AceDawg

May 10th, 2010
9:46 am

I’m SURE they have a chance – Thornton wouldn’t take a trip to Texas this late in the game for pure fun. That said, I’d think each of the four remaining have a shot. I’d rank Bama last, Tech third, and UGA/Texas in the front. Why? Bama for basketball is not better than UGA, so why leave where you are Mr. Georgia? As for Texas, they’ve been a strong program in recent years and deserve attention. Tech? Maybe, but Thornton may want to get at least a cab ride away from his high school, and Tech isn’t riding much momentum these days. UGA seems like a prime place to go considering Fox’s new momentum and the chance for Thornton to make an instant impact with a couple veterans in Thompkins and Leslie priming for the NBA.

wiley

May 10th, 2010
9:47 am

UGA and Alabama are football schools. That comment by his dad makes me think its between Tech and Texas. Both schools are good but Georgia Tech is in the ACC and is known for getting players to the next level. Paul Hewitt is a players coach, and will take good care of your basketball future. Look at Mario West…he came in as a walk on and Hewitt turned him into an NBA basketball player. Anthony Morrow entered Georgia Tech as a 3 star recruit and has become one of the best 3 point shooters in the league. Tech basketball and NBA basketball go hand in hand…its been that way for the last 20 years. Mark Price, John Salley, Marbury, Bosh…etc. Come be a Yellow Jacket and take us deep into March.

wiley

May 10th, 2010
9:50 am

ACE dawg…right that 14-17/last place finish in the SEC east sure did provide momentum. Tech just appeared in the second round of the big dance. How many times have you been there this decade? Tech has been 5 times and played for a Nation Championship. Get real.

cattle dawg

May 10th, 2010
10:22 am

Stay in state kid.

Eddy

May 10th, 2010
12:13 pm

Uga a national power? hahahahahahahahaha

horn1

May 10th, 2010
12:14 pm

1998–99 Texas 19–13 13–3 1st NCAA First Round
1999–00 Texas 24–9 13–3 2nd NCAA Second Round
2000–01 Texas 25–9 12–4 T–2nd NCAA First Round
2001–02 Texas 22–12 10–6 T–3rd NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2002–03 Texas 26–7 13–3 2nd NCAA Final Four
2003–04 Texas 25–8 12–4 T–2nd NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2004–05 Texas 20–11 9–7 T–5th NCAA First Round
2005–06 Texas 30–7 13–3 T–1st NCAA Elite Eight
2006–07 Texas 25–10 12–4 3rd NCAA Second Round
2007–08 Texas 31–7 13–3 T–1st NCAA Elite Eight
2008–09 Texas 23-12 9-7 T-4th NCAA Second Round
2009-10 Texas 24-10 9-7 T-6th NCAA First Round

horn1

May 10th, 2010
12:20 pm

It’s hard to stay good in college basketball but Rick Barnes has stayed in the Top 4 in the Big 12 10 out of the last 12 years…with 3 Big 12 titles as well. Don’t think that Alabama, Georgia, and G-Tech fans wouldn’t trade Barnes’ 12 year record in a HEARTBEAT! Even in Barnes’ “down years” his teams are still winning 20-24 games.

Texas has awesome academics and a great basketball program.

Big Bob

May 11th, 2010
5:49 pm

Marcus, go to UGA. We are going to be great next year and you can be a big part of that. Tech is going to dump their coach as soon as they can find someone that will take him.

[...] visited Austin in early May and seemingly came away impressed after meeting TJ Ford (one of his favorite college players), Mack [...]

Casey

May 19th, 2010
10:43 am

It is a violation for a former player to actively recruit someone (e.g. phone calls, visits to the recruit’s home or school, etc.). It is NOT a violation for a former player to meet a recruit while the recruit is visiting the campus. That happens all the time all over the country.