What is cooler than picturing Marcus Thornton draining threes at Madison Square Garden? Nothing. As most of you know, Marcus was drafted in the second round (45th overall) in the NBA Draft by the BOSTON CELTICS. He is the first Tribe player to be drafted in 30 years (since Keith Cieplicki in 1985). He is also the highest Tribe selection since Jeff Cohen was chosen 23rd overall back in 1961.
This season, Marcus put himself on the map after a senior season in which he averaged 20 points per game, led the Tribe to an NIT tournament bid, and was named the CAA Player of the Year. His stellar play earned him an invite to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (PIT), which is the only postseason camp exclusively reserved for the NCAA’s best seniors.
Marcus performed very well against top competition at the PIT, and was invited to the NBA Draft Combine, where he continued to excel, even beyond our own expectations. At the Combine, Thornton had the fastest three-quarter court sprint at 3.02 seconds, and was tied for 12th in lane agility at 10.96 seconds. He tied for third in the standing vertical jump at 34.5 inches, and tied for second in max vertical jump at 43.0 inches.
ESPN Draft Analyst Jay Bilas had rave reviews of Marcus, “Marcus has got ability. He’s got quickness, and he’s very good with the ball. He’s not afraid of anybody. He operates very well in the open court and he’ll defend. I like him very much.” He went on to state that Marcus is, “a guy that when he plays he’s pure of heart, if that makes sense. I really enjoyed watching him play. After I watched him I was kind of kicking myself going why haven’t I been watching this guy more? He’s a joy to watch.”
Along with Bilas, the Boston Celtics’ head coach Brad Stevens took notice, as the Celtics drafted Marcus 45th overall in the NBA Draft. Stevens, who coached at Butler for 7 years, knows all about hidden gems among the mid-major ranks. He was not scared at taking a shot with Marcus, and we at the Blog know it will pay off.
To say the least, Head Coach Tony Shaver was absolutely ecstatic to have ‘the hardest worker he has ever coached’ drafted into the NBA. “I am extremely happy and proud of Marcus,” W&M head coach Tony Shaver said. “It is a testament to all his hard work that he was an NBA Draft pick for an organization like the Boston Celtics. I have said it numerous times, but I have never coached a player who spent more time in the gym or worked as hard as Marcus Thornton. The true mark of a great player is his ability to make his team and those around him better, and that will be Marcus’s legacy at W&M. This is a strong statement for both Marcus and the Tribe basketball program.”
Marcus enters a crowded backcourt in Boston. The Celtics currently have 8 guards on the roster (including the three drafted on Thursday). On top of Thronton, the Celtics drafted guards RJ Hunter of Georgia State and Terry Rozier of Louisville. They will all compete for a roster spot at camp this offseason– four of the Celtics guards (Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, Evan Turner, and Avery Bradley) averaged 10 points per game last season.
While the Celtics are stockpiled at the guard position, outside of Isaiah Thomas, none of them have fully secured a roster spot. Some think that Brad Stevens will keep Rozier and Hunter and send Marcus to a good team overseas or to the D-league, but retain their rights on him. Moreover, President of Basketball Operations for the Celtics Danny Ainge said it was unlikely that the Celtics would have all four new players on their roster next season. He suggested the possibility of at least one pick playing overseas next year, which would not cost the Celtics a roster spot.
Marcus isn’t a true point guard, but he doesn’t have the size to play any other position in the NBA. Therefore, Stevens and company might try to have Marcus play in the D league or overseas in order to see if he has what it takes to play the point guard position at the next level. But of course, Marcus has a good a shot as any to make the roster this season, and we believe he can get the job done.
**Just as a side note, with Marcus getting drafted Thursday, William and Mary has become the ONLY school outside the Power 5 to have a player drafted in all 3 major sports drafts this year and one of only 17 schools nationally. (Marcus Thornton-Boston Celtics, Tre McBride-Tennessee Titans, and Ryan Hissey– Toronto Blue Jays). That is an unbelievable feat for a school that is primarily known for its academics. I think it is safe to say Tribe Athletics is on the rise, and professional teams are taking notice.**
We will continue to monitor Marcus’ every step this offseason. As of now, the greatest player in William and Mary history has become the 9th Tribe player drafted into the NBA, and the first in 30 years. His number will soon be retired in the rafters of Kaplan, and his career with the Celtics will begin. One thing is for certain: We will be purchasing a green Boston Celtics Marcus Thornton jersey as soon as it goes on sale, and we look forward to seeing some Celtic green at Kaplan Arena this coming season! As always, thanks for reading, and ROLL TRIBE ROLL!!!!