Georgia Basketball: Marcus Thornton rises above the negative voices


Marcus Thornton is Georgia Basketball’s dignified Big Dawg.

Set up some more chairs. The Marcus Thornton fan club is growing.

Thornton, a former Georgia Mr. Basketball and fourth team Parade All-American, came to Georgia as a late freshman signee. But, the road to basketball success has been a rocky one for the Westlake High School graduate.

After playing a little over 9 minutes a game as a freshman in 2011, a plague of injuries set upon Thornton for two seasons, robbing him of his athletic ability.

As a sophomore in 2012, Thornton shot under 27 % from the field and 55% from the free throw line. The season also included arthroscopic knee surgery. The off season brought more surgery.

After nine games in 2013, Thornton underwent further knee surgery and was granted a medical redshirt.

Fans wrote Thornton off.  His redshirt opportunity was pronounced a waste of time. His roster spot was deemed a waste of resources.

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The professorial Thornton had other ideas.

While red-shirting the 2013 season, Thornton took his seat at the end of the bench for each Georgia game. Rising above the negative voices, he was on his feet during timeouts – greeting his post-player comrades with the signature Thornton smile, a high five and encouragement. He also hit the books. Thornton earned his bachelor’s degree in Real Estate in spring of 2014. (He was also named to the 2014 SEC Community Service Team.)

Thornton’s maturity was noticed early by Anthony Dasher of and Thornton commented to Dasher in November of 2010:

"“I think that (mature approach) definitely comes from my family, my upbringing, my high school coach. I always stay around mature people trying to understand how you present yourself. It definitely helps a lot keeping everything in perspective and go after whatever you do in life with a mature enough approach where you look at everything from all sides, learn from your mistakes and try to get better every single day.”"

During the 2014 season, Thornton celebrated good health by playing 26 minutes a game –  4 minutes more than any other post-player and third on the team.

With the increased playing time, Thornton became a force on the boards, leading the 2014 Dawg’s in rebounding. He scored an average of 8 points a game – more than double his average in any previous year. Thornton scored the fourth most points of any Bulldog for the season. His field goal percentage improved to 43%, his 3-point shooting percentage to 45% and his free throw percentage to 65%.

But defense is where the on court stoic’s stature grew among pundits. In 2014, the 6’7” 235 pound post player was challenged nightly to contain the opposition’s most physical player. He delivered and the Bulldogs won 20 games, played into the SEC Tournament semi-finals and played into the second round of the NIT.

Georgia basketball has had few Glory, Glory moments. Marcus Thornton appears bent on delivering a few more.

“Marcus is a workaholic.” Fox told Anthony Dasher of “He’s got to be mindful of the amount of wear and tear he puts on his body, but he’s a graduate, a grown man who’s been through a lot and should be a terrific example for our young players.”

The Marcus Thornton Fan Club is looking for a larger meeting room.