When the AJC’s Mr. Georgia Basketball (Westlake’s Marcus Thornton) picked UGA last week, Thornton said he hoped it would encourage Georgia’s other elite basketball prospects to consider playing for the Bulldogs.
Shall we call it the “Marcus Thornton Effect?”
If anything, Thornton’s selection of UGA over perennial powerhouses such as Kentucky, Florida, Memphis and North Carolina caught the attention of a few of the state’s elite basketball players for 2011. Milton coach David Boyd said one of his three prized juniors, 6-foot-9 power forward Julian Royal, has UGA, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest as his favorites. Milton shooting guard Dai-Jon Parker is considering offers from UGA and Georgia Tech, among others, while point guard Shannon Scott has committed to Ohio State.
“Julian Royal’s recruiting has been very intense,” Boyd told the AJC. “I think his three favorites, and I’m not going to put them in any order, are Georgia, Wake Forest, and Georgia Tech.”
Royal has around 40 major-college offers. Why those three?
“With Georgia, I just think [Mark Fox] has done outstanding work there,” Boyd said. “They got Marcus Thornton, which really turned a lot of heads. That was very impressive. Georgia is an up-and-coming program and a state school.
“Georgia Tech is close to home, in the ACC, and they have sent a lot of guys to the NBA.
“Wake has always been a school highly interested in Julian, even with the coaching change.”
Boyd said that Royal is also taking looks at Alabama, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Virginia. “He has not really made any decision [narrowing down schools yet]. He hasn’t given me a list. But those three — Georgia, Wake and Tech — are the three schools I keep hearing about the most during our conversations.”
When will Royal make his college decision? Before his senior season begins? “That’s a good question … I don’t know,” Boyd said. “I think it would take a lot of stress off Julian if he decided during the summer or fall. But that’s up to him.”
What about Parker? Parker will at least wait until after the summer to announce his college decision, according to his coach. Parker gave up a promising football career (11 major-college offers in football) to focus on basketball only as a senior. The 6-3 Parker will travel the country over the summer while playing for two AAU basketball teams. His offer sheet includes Georgia Tech, UGA, Ohio State, Auburn and Virginia.
Milton is a top contender for a mythical national championship in high school basketball for next year. The Eagles won the 2010 state championship in Georgia’s largest classification, defeating Thornton’s Westlake High.
Royal was the team’s leading scorer, averaging 18 points and 8 rebounds. He saved Milton’s season by making two free throws with no time on the clock in the controversial 52-51 win over Norcross in the playoff’s quarterfinals.