BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Georgia coach Mark Fox talked about the recruiting approach he wants to take in his new job. It's the same as it was on the last one. Fox mined the country for untapped talent when he was at Nevada, often swinging toward the East Coast for players.[details]
HEADER MARCUS THORNTON Shooting/Point Guard Louisiana State University Tigers #5 6:02.6-194 Baton Rouge, Louisiana Kilgore College Tara High School
OVERVIEW Academic issues prevented Thornton from enrolling at LSU when he graduated from local Tara High School. He had planned to spend the 2005-06 season at Laurinburg (N.C.) Prep in hopes of bolstering his recruitment. Instead, the shooting guard ended up going the junior college route landing at Kilgore College. Thornton has taken his game to another level since those days. During his sophomore season he emerged as one of the most heavily recruited players in the country.
Thornton would conclude his collegiate career by scoring 2,700 points (21.6 per game) in 125 games. He made 928 field goals that included 327 3-pointers, adding 517 free throws while shooting .471 from the floor, .366 from 3-point range and .776 from the charity stripe. He also averaged 5.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
At Tara High School, Thornton gained notoriety for his scoring exploits, as the all-area guard led the team in points, scoring average and 3-point field goals. He was heading to Laurinburg Prep after graduation, but was convinced by Kilgore head coach Scott Schumacher to attend junior college.
Thornton appeared in 28 games for the Kilgore College Rangers in 2005-06, averaging 18.9 points per game that included 199 of 388 field goals (51.3 percent) and 63 of 179 3-pointers (35.2 percent), earning All-Region XIV honors. As a sophomore, he was named a first-team All-American and was awarded MVP honors for Region XIV after averaging 26.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, hitting on 96 3-pointers. He was also chosen MVP of the NJCAA Basketball Coaches Association Classic, scoring 19 points for the Texas All-Stars vs. The National All-Stars.
Kansas, Texas A&M, Maryland, Louisville, Connecticut, Florida State, Florida, Miami, LSU, Mississippi State and Kansas State all offered Thornton scholarships, but his heart was set on playing for the Tigers. He started 30 of 31 games at Louisiana State in 2007-08, earning All-Southeastern Conference and Newcomer of the Year honors from the league's coaches. He was also selected to the All-Louisiana team.
In his first season with the Tigers, Thornton ranked second in the SEC in scoring (19.6 per game) and third in free throw percentage (81.7 percent). He made 90 3-point attempts, the second-highest season total in school history. He also pulled down 5.6 rebounds and handed out 1.4 assists while matching that average in steals per game. He recorded double-figure scoring games 27 times, including putting up at least 20 points in 17 of those contests.
Thornton continued to dominate as a scorer during the 2008-09 season. The second-team All-American was an All-SEC first-team pick, as he was also named the league's Player of the Year. He received All-District accolades and was chosen the USBWA District VII Player of the Year. He was named Louisiana Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Wooden Award, given to the nation's top player.
As a senior, he was one of just two SEC players to average more than 20 points per game (21.1 per game). His 739 points scored placed ninth on the school's record list, as he shot 74.5 percent (6th in the SEC) from the charity stripe and made 256 field goals, the 10th-best season total by a Tiger. He handed out 75 assists (2.1 assists per game) and snatched 192 rebounds (5.5 per game) while collecting 56 steals.
2008-09 SEASON All-American second-team selection by The NBA Draft Report and Rivals.com...All-Southeastern Conference first-team choice and named the league's Player of the Year by both the SEC's coaches and the Associated Press...Earned United States Basketball Writers Association All-District VII first-team and District Player of the Year honors...Was also a National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District pick...Added Louisiana Player of the Year accolades and was a finalist for the Wooden Award, given to the nation's top basketball player...Named SEC and ESPN Player of the Week for March 2nd and added SEC Player of the Week recognition for Jan. 27...Ranked 18th in the nation in scoring, averaging 21.1 points per game, as his 739 total points rank ninth on the school season-record list...Shot 47.2 percent from the floor, as his 256 field goals made (542 attempts) placed 10th on LSU's annual record chart...Was successful on 38.8 percent of his 3-point attempts (201 total), as he made 78 of those treys, the sixth-highest season total in school annals...Connected on 74.5 percent of his free throws (200 total), as he hit on 149 of those free throws, ranking 11th on the Tigers' single-season list...Grabbed 192 rebounds (5.5 per game), as he dished out 75 assists (2.1 per game), had 56 steals (1.6 per game) and blocked 13 shots (0.4 per game)...Scored in double figures in 31 of 35 games he started, logging 1,116 minutes of action...Hit the 20-point mark 20 times, reaching 30 points or better in seven contests...Produced two double-doubles...Charged with 72 personal fouls and 64 turnovers.
2007-08 SEASON Earned All-SEC first-team honors from the league's coaches, adding second-team accolades from the Associated Press...USBWA All-District VII and All-Louisiana first-team pick...Named the USBWA District Player of the Year and SEC Newcomer of the Year...Was a Wooden Award finalist...Started 30 of 31 games in his first season at Louisiana State, ranking second in the conference while leading the team in scoring, averaging 19.6 points per game (608 total)...Shot 43.6 percent from the field (212 of 486) and 37.7 percent from three-point range (239 total), as his 90 successful treys rank second on the school season-record list...His free throw percentage of .817 ranked third in the conference, as Thornton hit on 94 of 115 chances from the foul line...Had 42 assists (1.4 per game), 43 steals (1.4 per game) and 10 blocked shots (0.3 per game)...Also pulled down 174 rebounds (5.6 per game)...Charged with 68 turnovers and 62 personal fouls while logging 1,043 minutes of action...Scored in double figures 27 times, including producing at least 20 points in 17 contests...Registered four double-double performances.
CAREER NOTES Started 65 of 66 games at Louisiana State, as his scoring average of 20.4 rank sixth on their career-record list behind Pete Maravich (44.2 points per game, 1967-70), Chris Jackson (29.0 ppg, 1988-90), Bob Pettit (27.4 ppg, 1951-54), Shaquille O'Neal (21.6 ppg, 1989-92) and Glenn Hansen (20.5 ppg, 1973-75)...Scored a total of 1,347 points that included making 468 of 1,028 field goals (45.5 percent), 243 of 315 free throws (77.1 percent) and shot 38.2 percent from 3-point range, the ninth-best average by a Tiger in a career...Attempted 440 3-pointers, made 168 of them, ranking eighth on the school all-time chart...His 256 field goals made in 2008-09 rank 10th on the Tigers' season-record list and his 78 successful 3-pointers that season rank sixth on the annual record chart...His 90 3-point field goals made in 2007-08 are topped only by Anthony Wilson (95 in 1986-87) on the school season-record list...Made eight 3-pointers vs. Auburn in 2008, the third-best game total in school annals, surpassed only by Chris Jackson (10 vs. Tennessee in 1990 and nine vs. Mississippi in 1989...Including his two seasons at Kilgore College, Thornton appeared in 125 college games, scoring 2,700 points (21.6 points per game) with 928 of 1,971 field goals (47.1 percent), 327 of 894 3-pointers (36.6 percent) and 517 of 666 free throws (77.6 percent)...Pulled down 646 rebounds (5.2 per game), as he doled out 216 assists (1.7 per game) and registered 175 steals (1.4 per game)...Averaged 21.1 points per game in 2008-09, becoming the first Tiger to average more than 20 points per game in a season since Ronnie Henderson in 1995-96.
HIGH SCHOOL Attended Tara (Baton Rouge, La.) High School, earning All-Region and All-Area honors in each of his last two years.
INJURY REPORT No major injuries reported.
JUNIOR COLLEGE Lettered at Kilgore (Tex.) College during the 2005-07 seasons, playing basketball for head coach Scott Schumacher...The two-time All-Region XIV choice appeared in 59 games for the Rangers, as he scored 1,353 points (22.9 per game) on 460 of 943 field goals (48.8 percent), 159 of 454 three-pointers (35.0 percent) and 274 of 351 free throws (78.1 percent)...Grabbed 280 rebounds (4.7 rpg) while dishing out 99 assists (1.7 apg) to go with 76 steals (1.3 per game. 2006-07 Season...As a sophomore, he was named a first-team All-American and was awarded MVP honors for Region XIV after averaging 26.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, hitting on 96 3-pointers...Had 190 rebounds, 79 assists and 48 steals...Shot 47.0 percent from the floor (261 of 555), 34.9 percent from 3-point range (96 of 275) and 81.5 percent from the foul line (207 of 254)...Chosen MVP of the NJCAA Basketball Coaches Association Classic, scoring 19 points for the Texas All-Stars vs. The National All-Stars. 2005-06 Season...Thornton appeared in 28 games, averaging 18.9 points per game that included 199 of 388 field goals (51.3 percent) and 63 of 179 three-pointers (35.2 percent), earning All-Region XIV honors.
PERSONAL Interdisciplinary Studies major...Son of Nancy West and Lloyd Woods...Born 6/05/87 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
SCOUTING REPORT Positives: A highly effective scorer, Thornton also greatly improved his defensive game under first-year coach Trent Johnson...Shows great range to consistently connect from the perimeter and better strength taking the ball inside and drawing contact attacking the basket...Has a good release with a high arch when shooting from the charity stripe, making 77.6 percent of his chances from the foul line during his career...Has averaged 3.6 guarded jumpers per game (does a good job of leaving the floor to get elevate and shoot with a hand in his face) at LSU. Has the quickness to slash to the basket or just fade back to get space to put up a jumper from mid-range...Very effective coming off screens and is more successful than most college guards shooting off cuts and curls...Has that natural body strength to getting past double teams working in the post...Had more of a "shoot first" mentality in junior college, but worked hard to improve his ball-distribution skills last season...Dangerous shooter from beyond the arc (38.2 percent 3-point shooter at LSU)...Quickness and lateral agility are evident by the success he has coming off flex cuts and curls...Shows the nimble feet to fade back with a smooth jumper and uses his jabs and hesitation moves to get separation...Quite effective putting the ball on the floor and charging to the rim...Not a great ball-handler and could be a liability when he keeps the ball on the floor too long but keeps the ball close to his body, resulting in his low turnover rate in 2008-09 (just 64 turnovers)...Has become more unselfish when needed to act as a facilitator, and increased his assist total to 75 as a senior from 42 the previous year (produced an assist/turnover ratio of 1.32/1.0)...Has a very quick release and that second gear to get under the basket in an instant...Shows good aggression taking his game inside and consistently connecting around the rim... Rare for a guard, but he establishes position in the post, getting 72 of his 192 rebounds off the offensive glass as a senior...Has the balance and body control to score off stagger screens and in catch-and-shoot situations...Vastly improved as a defender, as he stays low in his stance and uses his decent wingspan (6-foot-5) to contest shots on the perimeter or disrupt activity in the passing lane...Times his leaps well (8-foot-3 standing reach) when going up to contest shots or battle for the rebound.
Negatives: While he has improved as a passer, he still needs to improve his ball-handling if he hopes to earn time at the point...Lacks the ideal size for a two-guard, but compensates with above-average quickness and impressive strength...Willing to distribute the ball, but he is a true gunner who is better served creating his own shot rather than setting the table...Has improved his ability to shoot off the dribble, but his accuracy suffers when he has to pull up in traffic...Has good hip snap to slip through a crowd, but can get bounced around by bigger forwards when he tries to shoot coming off isolation plays...Has the speed to stay in front as a defender on the perimeter, but must show better patience and avoid getting out of position to chase the ball...Still has a bit of a "junior college mentality" and needs to improve his basketball IQ, as he will bite on pump fakes and over-commit on hesitation moves...Has improved his base when shooting jumpers, but would be even more effective getting his feet underneath him...Must continue to work on improving his ball-handling skills to create better shots for himself at the next level...Shows good aggression driving into the paint, but gets too reckless in his charge and can be stripped of the ball (72 percent of his turnovers came when doing this).
Compares To: RASHAD McCANTS, Sacramento -- Like McCants and Detroit's Rodney Stuckey, Thornton is a true gunner who might lack the size you look for in a two guard, but plays with good aggression and has a sweet stroke and quick release. He will never develop the ball-handling skills needed to play the point, but coming off the bench he is an excellent scoring option, especially in a half-court offense in which he can come off of screens as a catch-and-shoot option.