Sleeper Report: Marcus Thornton (William and Mary)

Marcus Thornton

Editor’s Note: Sleeper Reports are detailed scouting reports done on players who are under the radar and who have pro potential (NBA, D-League, or overseas). This player usually plays for a DII or LM school and is a player that not a lot of people are talking about but should be. The players strengths, weaknesses, and pro projections are detailed out.

Prospect Reports are detailed scouting reports done on players who are considered at least Top 100 players and are listed on mock draft boards. They usually play for a MM or HM school (not always) and will be leaving school for the draft after this season or next season most likely. The players strengths, weaknesses, and pro projections are detailed out.

By James Blackburn

Game Scouted: William and Mary @ Wake Forest

Wake wins 63-57

Box Score

Marcus Thornton (G, 6’4”, SO)

Stats

35 min, 7-13 FG, 1-4 3pt FG, 2-2 FT, 1 reb, 1 PF, 1 assist, 4 TO, 17 TP

Strengths

Thornton showed good patience on the offensive end most of the game and did not shoot his first shot until about 4 minutes in. Thornton is one of the quickest players I have seen this year, possessing a lethal first step. Combining his superb athleticism and a very quick first step, he has the ability to get to the rime practically at will. Has a quick and low, left to right crossover dribble that he can use to get to rim. He showed numerous times tonight the ability to split the trap off the P/R and made it look easy. Marcus excels in Pick and Roll situations, which bodes well for him going forward. He can turn the corner on the P/R play and either finish inside or kick to open teammates (something he didn’\’t do a lot of, but has the ability to do). He handled Wake’s pressure fine and also showed that he could beat a press both off the bounce and with the pass. He is a solid ball handler and played shared time playing both on and off the ball. He gets so low to the ground when he dribbles and he almost lost balance several times, but somehow he kept his balance and still finished shot. He moves very well with out the ball with quick cuts and knows how to get open. He is also a better passer then his 1 assist today and his 11 assist for the year indicate. He uses his athleticism when attacking the rim and hangs in the air and finishes with contact. He also changes speeds and directions easily- very natural and fluid. He has the ability to change and adjust his shots in the air and finish. He does a great job of slithering by secondary defenders and avoiding the charge. Highlight reel with the ball. Can create his own shot and can make plays on busted plays or at end of shot clock.

Thornton’s shot is still a little shaky at this point, but he gets great elevation on pull up jump shot and is a good FT shooter (shooting over 70% for his career). Looked calm and comfortable at line- went 2-2, but didn’t go to FT line until 10 seconds remaining.

He was W&M go-to player when team needed points and needed a score- they put him in a P/R situation.

Not a great defender at this point, but he is quick laterally and he covers ground and recovers quickly. He contested most shots and was in solid position as the help defender.

Weaknesses

Thornton’s inefficiencies start on the defensive end. He is vulnerable to getting posted up against bigger guards because of a lack of strength. He also had a tough time fighting through screens both on and off the ball. He attempted to his credit to fight around the screens, but he gets bumped/muscled too much defensively. He could stand to add about 10 more pounds of muscle in the next 2 years, which would help in these areas. Does a good job of knowing where to be defensively- as far as being in good position as the secondary help defender, but he is often out of stance. Needs to work on closing out better defensively- has a tendency to jump instead of staying down and contesting.

Jump shot is inconsistent at this point and his form could improve. He holds the ball for too long and doesn’t release it at top of jump- doesn’t release until he starts coming down. Shot is different each time- needs to get consistent stroke when shooting.

Rarely heard him open his mouth on either end- doesn’t communicate on defensive end and is not a vocal leader. Complained to the officials a couple times when he thought he had gotten pushed or fouled going up for a shot and showed frustration when a shot/lay-up wouldn’t fall. Has a tendency to get out of control at times when handling the ball caused mostly by over dribbling- TO prone. He is a good ball handler, but is noticeably more explosive and comfortable going and finishing with his right, rather then left hand.

Overview

Solid scoring game for Thornton, who came into the contest ranking second in the CAA with just over 17 ppg. He was named to the Preseason Second-Team All CAA and was named CAA Player of the Week after scoring 24 points against Hampton.

Here are some quick notes on Thornton and this game. He came out and defended Wake Forests’ best player in CJ Harris (they are guarded each other most of the game). William and Mary is running a form of the flex offensively. Looked engaged and focused on coach in the first time out. Has a low key demeanor on the court- almost looks like he is coasting- but he is not-quite personality. Had a couple of big time buckets at end of game, when team needed a score.

Although Thornton has a quite personality, he needs to become more of a vocal leader. He uses his quickness/athleticism mostly on defense, but doesn’t get low or wide in defensive stance- should be pressuring ball more w/ speed. He will not be able to resort to his speed at next level when he is going to be matched up against quick guards night in and night out. Didn’t pick up first foul until 1:25 remaining in game, which speaks on his aggressiveness on defense, or lack there of.

Has more TO (14) then assist (11) up to this point- not a good sign for an undersized combo guard that will have to make move to the PG for next level. Has the quickness/speed, athleticism, and size to play PG at pro level- but not good enough playmaker at this stage. I saw some playmaking ability-but not enough of it this game. This is something I believe he can and will develop in his time at W & M. Has decent enough size (listed at 6’4”- more like 6’2”) to play the PG at the pro level, but not the shooting guard position.

Thornton as sophomore reminds me of Jeff Teague when he was at Wake as a sophomore. Both are/were combo guards who had a knack for scoring the basketball. Thornton is actually an inch or so taller then Teague and is just as quick and athletic. Teague was able to make the transition to the PG position in the pro’s after playing both guard positions in college. I believe Thornton can and will improve his PG and playmaking skills while also continuing to score the basketball. If he can develop some shooting consistency, he has a shot to play in the NBA after his senior year has completed. He is a player that scouts should at least monitor as he is mostly under the radar at this point, but will be ready for the D-League, if not the NBA in 2 years.

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