Marcus Thornton, aka ‘Mr. Georgia Basketball,’ picks UGA (updated)

Marcus Thornton plans to study business -- and basketball of course -- at the University of Georgia. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Marcus Thornton plans to study business -- and basketball, of course -- at the University of Georgia. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Marcus Thornton is a Bulldog.

Thornton, aka Mr. Georgia Basketball, picked the University of Georgia out of a final four that included Alabama, Georgia Tech and Texas. He made the announcement at a news conference before a modest gathering in the Westlake High gymnasium.

“They were all great schools, great situations, the coaching staffs were all great. It was hard for me to pick one over another,” Thornton told the AJC afterward. “But, in the end, I liked the opportunity I could have at Georgia. I wanted to be a big piece of something. I felt in my heart that’s what I really wanted to do.”

Thornton (6-foot-7, 215 pounds) said he will be a “combo forward” for the Bulldogs, playing mostly small forward in the Bulldogs’ triangle offer but also spelling Trey Thompkins at power forward. Thornton earned the distinction as the state’s top player while averaging 24 points and 12 rebounds a game and leading Westlake (30-3) to the Class AAAAA state championship game this past season.

Thornton recently narrowed a long list of offers to a top four of Alabama, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Texas. He visited each of his finalists over the last two weeks — finishing at Tech this past Thursday — before making up his mind on Tuesday.

Thornton originally signed with Clemson last November but changed his mind after coach Oliver Purnell left for DePaul. The Tigers released Thornton from his national letter-of-intent, making him one of the most sought-after spring recruits in the South. The spring signing period ends Wednesday.

Thornton said the Atlantic Coast Conference’s intraconference transfer rule, which would have required a waiver appeal if he had chosen Tech, was not a factor in his decision.

“We made the decision like the rule wasn’t even there,” he said. “We looked into it but I really didn’t deal with it much. My parents did. They just told me to make the decision and if you want to go to Tech we’ll make it happen.”

Thornton said his relationship with the players at Georgia and with coach Mark Fox were major factors in his decision.

“It was a combination of everything,” he said. “I’ve been in Georgia, so I’ve known about the school for all these years. Mark Fox is a great coach. I love what he’s doing up there. And there’s a lot of great guys up there I already know. So it was just a good situation.”

Thornton was distinguished as “Mr. Basketball” — the best overall high school player in the state regardless of classification — by both the AJC and the Atlanta Tipoff Club. He was named fourth-team All-America by Parade Magazine.

“We are delighted that Marcus has decided to join our program,” Fox said. “He is a terrific basketball player, a great student and an outstanding young man. He’s a winner in every way. He has a great family who now will be able to watch him play. Marcus was well coached in high school and is ready for the next step in his basketball career. It means a great deal to have Mr. Basketball coming to the University of Georgia for that next step. It’s also very exciting to us that Marcus wants to be a part of what we’re building Georgia.”

Because he already signed an national letter-of-intent with Clemson last November, NCAA rules prevent Thornton from signing another one. So he signed a “financial aid agreement.” But it’s mostly semantics. Thornton said he will report to UGA’s campus on May 31 and start classes shortly thereafter.

Thornton is fourth member of the Bulldogs’ 2010 recruiting class. He joins 6-8 forward Cady Lalanne of Orlando, Fla.; 6-9 forward Donte Williams of Ellenwood; and 6-2 guard Sherrard Brantley of Dublin.

238 comments Add your comment

txdawg

May 18th, 2010
10:39 pm

Bull

May 18th, 2010
10:42 pm

Of course Tech would say they’re optimistic on getting the waiver just to get him to commit. Georgia would be a great fit and also on the upswing with a stellar coach.

Tuscaloosa Dawg

May 18th, 2010
10:43 pm

He’d be a great addition to the bulldogs. Alabama’s program is not generating much excitement – I wouldn’t be surprised if the coach is gone in a year.

GT FAN

May 18th, 2010
10:55 pm

Tech needs him to play now. Safe money on UGA or Texas.

TheTruthHurts

May 18th, 2010
11:03 pm

Look at you txdawg. Congrats.
If only I’d quit surfing porn 15 minutes earlier, that coulda been me.

Hoops Dawg

May 18th, 2010
11:10 pm

I’d love to have you Marcus–you’d be a great fit for this team and a crowd favorite I’m sure. Plus, things are starting to happen under coach Fox and I haven’t been this excited about an upcoming season in years! Then again, I am biased and you should obviously do what you hink is best for Marcus Thornton. So good luck young man, whatever your decision. I look forward to following your career, be it as a dawg, a jacket, a ‘horn or a ?????tide?

TideHoops

May 18th, 2010
11:30 pm

Marcus, you will grow more as a person and a basketball player under Coach Grant’s leadership. Your brightest future lies in Tuscaloosa.

Drago

May 18th, 2010
11:36 pm

It would be a shame for him to sign with tek and then find out he would have to sit out a year.

Pope UGA XXIII

May 18th, 2010
11:52 pm

Even if the ACC allows him to play at Tech in the first year, can
anyone tell me just what, if anything, Mr Hewitt is going to provide
in the way of coaching ?? I’m sure Mr Favors thought that another
year at Tech would up his draft stock.
I’m an obviously biased UGA graduate and a near 40 year season
ticket holder, but I strongly feel you will benefit greatly by playing for
Coach Fox in Athens.

Dawgforlife

May 19th, 2010
12:06 am

How many coaches do we have to go through before people stop throwing Jim Harrick…I mean what in the name of lying George O’leary and cheating Mike DuBose is it going to take?

[...] not sure of anybody over there, but as soon as I hear anything I will post it up here. Check out the whole story. Category [...]

Jackets!

May 19th, 2010
1:26 am

Pope…when your a consensus top 5 pick…what could you possibly gain from going back to any college…not just a Hewitt coached team. Derrick Left because he was ready for the NBA….Hewitt has shown that he can make NBA players out of talent. Look at Will Bynum, Chris Bosh, Anthony Morrow, Jarret Jack, Javaris Critterton, Thad Young, and Mario West. All current NBA players. Hewitt can put you in the league.

bwell

May 19th, 2010
1:26 am

Mr. Thornton WE NEED YOU AT GA……….ALL THE OTHER SCHOOLS ARE ESTABLISHED, UP BUILD UGA PLEASE!!!!!!!!

Guru

May 19th, 2010
2:33 am

Mark Fox will be gone in 4 years after he falls flat on his face. Its hilarious seeing UGA fans get all happy thinking he is a great coach after they had a losing record yet again. He didn’t accomplish anything, hell even Hewitt took a team that hadn’t made the tourney in a few years and brought them to the NCAA tourney his first year at GT, you can’t tell anything after the first year. And please shut up with the talk of him developing Leslie and Thompkins, those guys worked their butts off over the summer in Atlanta with trainers, not with Fox.

RomeDawg

May 19th, 2010
5:28 am

Have fun in Athens next year!

Buzz

May 19th, 2010
6:44 am

The young man is heading to UGA. You can book that! There is no way he would sit out a year. It is unfortunate that the ACC commissioner wants to hold SA’s hostage when there is a coaching change.

Paddy

May 19th, 2010
6:57 am

This kid should go play for Oliver Purnell at DePaul. He likes Oliver and the guy can really coach.

Frank

May 19th, 2010
7:12 am

Welcome to UGA. CMF is getting it done.

THWGT!!!!!

techfan

May 19th, 2010
7:14 am

I am a tech fan, but if I where this kid I would not chance on the ACC letting him play next year. Go somewhere you know you can play next year.

Buzzzed

May 19th, 2010
7:44 am

Rumor mill has him going to UGA. F’d by the ACC again. Can we leave this conference run by a bunch of NC good old boys?

Jacket1985

May 19th, 2010
8:09 am

I don’t think it really matters where this kid goes. From the sound of it he’s another “one and done” athlete. Derrick Favors was great at Tech but give me some players who will stay a few years and build a solid program. And no, neither UGA nor Tech have solid,consistently winning programs at this point in time. At least that’s my opinion.

Whomever gets him, enjoy the one year.

What a great school uga is

May 19th, 2010
8:11 am

OF COURSE UGA WOULD BE BEGGIN FOR PLAYERS…HEHE GOOBERS!

Dixie Clear

May 19th, 2010
8:20 am

uga has a basketball team??

dap01

May 19th, 2010
8:30 am

Thornton would be a great fit at UGA between 2 first rounds picks for next year.

UGA basketball is going to be special and Fox is the best at getting the most out of players.

Go Thornton!

buzz

May 19th, 2010
8:36 am

UGA will have a very good team with or without Thornton. If they land him they have a chance at being a top 3 team in the conference. Enjoy it while you can as Fox, like Tubby, will leave for greener pastures once the right job becomes available. UGA hoops, two seasons of tradition!

Marcus..keep your valuables in a safe!

May 19th, 2010
8:39 am

Hey Marcus….Did you see the the ACJ homepage today?
ANOTHER person robbed at Tech. That’s about the 100th for the year!
You have a better chance of being held up and robbed at Tech than you do of winning the conf.

KD

May 19th, 2010
8:56 am

I believe it is between Bama & UGA with Bama winning out. It would be nice if UGA would get him. And will all you Techies quit saying that Fox will be gone in 4 years, you do not know that , I guess it is just wishful thinking because of what might happen at UGA, and their b-ball team start beating you, and one more thing to Guru,JUST SHUT UP !!!!

no dog

May 19th, 2010
9:01 am

UGA is the worst team in a bad conference. Fox has not proven or accomplished anything. The only nationally respected programs the kid has on his list are Tech and Texas….seems to me he would choose one of those. Or he could go to GA or AL and be a big fish in a little pond.

Reggie Ball

May 19th, 2010
9:11 am

Marcus, I’ll give you my MVP award from UGA if you choose Tech!

TRUTH-TELLIN' DAWG

May 19th, 2010
9:16 am

Guru sounds bitter. Sad truth is, it wouldn’t matter if Elmer Fudd was the coach at UGA b.c Tech would STILL lose!!! WE RUN THIS STATE!!! hahaha

Curlygreg

May 19th, 2010
9:21 am

Yeah no dog, that 67 – 93 conference record under Hewitt has really made Tech a nationally respected program. Little early to be drinking, isn’t it?

Paddy

May 19th, 2010
9:36 am

One and Done has sure helped the college game, hasn’t it? Is it any wonder college BB is losing fans at a mighty clip.

Sven Ottke

May 19th, 2010
9:38 am

It appears the ACC is going to screw Tech and itself on this one. How much more proof is needed that Swafford is clueless? This is rather unfortunate for the conference as the young man has been forced to go with his second choice. Very sad indeed.

Tom

May 19th, 2010
9:47 am

Unfortunately, the likelihood of having to sit a year is going to force MT to his (and his family’s) second choice, which is a shame.

Good luck, Marcus!

collegeballfan

May 19th, 2010
9:51 am

Sven Ottke May 19th, 2010 9:38 am
“It appears the ACC is going to screw Tech and itself on this one…”

I completely agree with this thought. The conference “rules” that all conferences have put in place decades ago are really due for a modernization. The rule should be to hold the coach accountable. If the coach signs a player to a grant and then leaves, that player should be free to sign anywhere and be immediately eligible.

Attack of the Rothelisberger

May 19th, 2010
10:04 am

Hewitt can get players to the next level? Your coach is on the hotseat. These players come outta HS ready to make the jump to the NBA. It sure aint Hewitt’s coaching techniques. Ya’ll get a grip!!!

Buzzzed

May 19th, 2010
10:05 am

Swafford = North Carolina Good ol’ boy

BigTimeTECHFan

May 19th, 2010
10:23 am

No way it’s Tech, waiver would have been requested before he signed. Unless it all been done and approved without press.

Tom

May 19th, 2010
10:24 am

Not sure how “NBA-ready” walk-on Mario West was coming out of HS.

DX107

May 19th, 2010
10:47 am

Didn’t our sorry basketball team beat Tech? Was just thinking why are they (TECH) running their mouths.

indianman

May 19th, 2010
10:58 am

go to georgia and play for the dogs

Flo-Ri-Duh!

May 19th, 2010
11:06 am

Mr. Thornton if these four teams are your final choices then I can eliminate two for you. Tech and Bama will have new head coaches after this season….. Hewitt will have a bad year because his talent turned pro and he is a mediocre coach. Fox improved UGA last year and actually beat Tech and 4 other ranked teams even though UGA had less experienced talent. That is called coaching. Both of Fox’s pro prospects returned to UGA when they could have turned pro. That shows they have faith in their coach and know they and the team are going to be in the NCAA playoffs this year. Texas has good teams but they are a long way from home and never seem to win the big one. Stay close to home so your family can watch you play on an up and coming team with an excellent coach to get you to the next level. Fox is building a champion and UGA is committed to building UGA basketball in to a winner for years to come.

Rick Barnes

May 19th, 2010
11:13 am

You don’t want to come to Texas young man. I’m the Paul Hewitt of the Big 12- a glorified AAU coach who thinks Xs and Os are for tic-tac-toe.

How2fish

May 19th, 2010
11:14 am

Bama plays B-ball? Really who knew? Good luck young man wherever you decide.

heartofdarkness

May 19th, 2010
11:17 am

Should The NCAA Forever Own My Rights?
By: David Paulson, Junior & Tight End Player at the University of Oregon

A college football player has everything he could ever dream about. The chance to play a game he loves in a stadium filled with 60,000 screaming fans. He is seen all across the country and is loved by his school and his schools fans (when everything is going well). He gets the chance to go to school for free and live a life that many people dream of.

From an outsider’s perspective, it may seem like they have everything that they could ever ask for. But, there is something that the college football player does not have. That is the right to his publicity and his likeness.

I am a college athlete that can attest that I am living my dream. I get to play a sport I love and I am receiving a college education for free. I understand that I am fortunate to have all the opportunities that I have, but I think the way that the NCAA uses current and former players to make money is worth taking a look at.

When that 18-year-old arrives on campus he signs his rights away to the NCAA because he is given no choice or legal guidance. This gives the NCAA and the companies they license to an opportunity to make millions of dollars. After a college athlete plays four or five years and helps make millions of dollars for the NCAA through licensing deals, then it would seem logical that the player should get his publicity rights back because he is no longer a member of the NCAA.

However, the NCAA does not release the rights to the former players.

The NCAA and EA have continued to use former players in order to make more money. No one really noticed that the NCAA was doing anything wrong until a few former players discovered that they were seeing their images and likeness being used by the NCAA without getting their consent. They decided it was time that for someone to stand up for the players’ rights.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/37136729

KD

May 19th, 2010
11:22 am

Just in from Scout.com, he’s going UGA !!!!

[...] Making Announcement Today at 12PM By hoopdawg According to Tim Tucker of the AJC, Westlake senior Marcus Thornton will announce today at 12pm which university he will be attending [...]

Jackets!

May 19th, 2010
11:47 am

Those of you freaking out are somewhat misguided. Yes Marcus Thornton is a good recruit and yes Tech wants him but he isnt anywhere close to the level of Derrick Favors or other 5 star one and done recruits. Thornton should play for 3 or 4 years and may not even see much playing time as a freshman at Tech or UGA. Georgia Tech signed two big men, not including Favors, higher rated than him last year…and they both red shirted. Tech has plenty of talent with Glen Rice, Brian Oliver, Holsey, and Miller(who we stole from UGA) all remaining from last years loaded class. We are also returning Iman Shumpert and several veteran players who rode the bench because of the wealth of talent on last years team. Tech will be fine, sucks that the ACC rule screwed us over.

Jackets!

May 19th, 2010
11:55 am

Oh and we are bringing in ESPNU 100 SG Jason Morris too…who also happens to be a higher rated player than Thornton. Still wish Thornton could come to GT though.

Pope UGA XXIII

May 19th, 2010
11:59 am

Committed to UGA – YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS !!!!