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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Memphis is latest offer for AJC’s Mr. Georgia Basketball, Marcus Thornton, while new Clemson coach awaits conversation

10:45 pm April 13, 2010, by Michael Carvell

The AJC’s Mr. Georgia Basketball is taking a wait-and-see attitude toward Clemson’s new basketball coach.

Westake High’s Marcus Thornton has turned into one of nation’s hottest free agents in college basketball since being granted a release from his Clemson letter-of-intent after Oliver Purnell took the head coaching job at DePaul. On Tuesday, Clemson selected Wright State’s Brad Brownell to fill the vacancy.

Clemson athletics director Terry Don Phillips informed Thornton about the new coach. What does Thornton think of Brownell? Is he enough to convince Mr. Georgia Basketball to pick Clemson again?

“We’ve heard about Brad Brownell, and I’ve heard other people say that he’s a good coach,” Thornton’s father, Billy, told the AJC on Tuesday night. “We expect to talk with (Brownell) on Wednesday or Thursday. We look forward to talking with him. As far as anything else, I don’t think it would be appropriate to say anything else about him until we talk to him.”

Meanwhile, during Clemson’s 8-day search for a coach, Thornton has attracted attention from some of the biggest names of college basketball. The 6-foot-7 forward has accepted in-home visits during the upcoming NCAA contact period from a who’s who in the coaching profession:

Kentucky’s John Calipari.

Florida’s Billy Donovan.

Texas’ Rick Barnes.

Alabama’s Anthony Grant.

Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt (although Thornton will probably meet Hewitt in the Atlanta area because of the close proximity).

UGA’s Mark Fox.

All six schools have offered basketball scholarships. Thornton will wait to see how the in-home visit goes before determining which college campuses to visit. He has already seen many of them during his summer travels playing AAU basketball.

On Wednesday, the elder Thornton also confirmed that Memphis has extended a scholarship offer. Memphis has already raided Georgia for Wheeler High’s Jelan Kendrick, who was the state’s lone participant in the McDonald’s All-America game.

Auburn and Michigan are among the other schools that have offered, while around a dozen other schools have left messages.

“We feel blessed to be in this situation, but we’re not sure about making this thing any bigger right now,” Billy said. “We’re ready to move forward with the process.”

Thornton committed to Clemson before the start of his junior season, before many other colleges had finished evaluations. He had a monster senior season — averaging 24 points and 12 rebounds, while leading Westlake to the championship game in the Georgia’s largest division.

Thornton is also an Honor Student with a 3.7 GPA. He couldn’t talk to college coaches on Tuesday because he was studying for an AP calculus test.

Brownell has a lot more than Thornton to worry about in his opening days: Several Clemson players expressed frustration over Purnell’s departure, while Devin Booker has talked about a transfer.


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