When the AJC’s Mr. Basketball attended his first day of college classes on Friday, he officially became a member of the Georgia Bulldogs.
Westlake High’s Marcus Thornton committed to UGA on May 18, and signed non-binding athletic grant-in-aid papers the same day. Because Thornton had signed a letter-of-intent with Clemson last November — and later was released after the departure of coach Oliver Purnell, Thornton was prevented from signing a second LOI with another school in the same calendar year under NCAA rules.
In other words, despite Thornton’s commitment to Georgia two weeks ago, he was eligible to pick another college until attending his first day of summer school. Thornton reported to Georgia for summer-session orientation last Monday, and then began classes on Friday, which made him a binding member of the UGA’s 2010 basketball recruiting classes, according to the school’s director of compliance, Eric Baumgartner. (For the record, Thornton never considered changing his mind after announcing UGA)
The 6-foot-7 Thornton is one of the most heralded prospects to ever sign with UGA, turning down offers from Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Texas and Memphis, among others. He is expected to contribute for immediate playing time at power foward.
“Marcus is loving it over there in Athens,” said his father, Billy Thornton. “He feels really comfortable at Georgia, and is good friends with some other incoming freshmen he played basketball with over the years [UGA football recruits Alec Ogletree of Newnan and T.J. Stripling of Southwest DeKalb]. We haven’t heard much from him since he left for Georgia … which tells us he is really enjoying it.”
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