3 W&M Players Pursue NBA Dreams (& 1 in France!)

W&M has several basketball alums doing it big at the professional level. [Daniel Dixon, top left; Connor Burchfield, top right; Terry Tarpey, buttom left; Marcus Thornton, bottom right]
As W&M is often thought of as a small academic school before all else, most sports fans would be surprised to learn that the Tribe has turned many players into professional athletes in recent years. Not only that, but these players are getting professional looks in several big-time leagues, such as the NBA. And that’s no small feat.

There are only ~491 players in the entire NBA. Given the fact that there are currently just over 326 million people living in the United States, and without any other factors taken into account, the odds of someone from the U.S. being on an NBA roster is .0015%.  And let’s not forget that these sports are constantly increasing their global appeal, as players now come to the NBA from across the world — so it’s now even harder for your average American to make an NBA roster.

In short, it’s damn impressive to even be considered for the NBA. And it’s even more impressive as you’re doing that as a graduate of the magnificent College of William & Mary. Roll Tribe Roll.

  Marcus Thornton

To say that former Tribe legend and all-time leading scorer Marcus Thornton has had an eventful year on the court would be a gross understatement. But before we get into it, can we retire his #3 jersey already? How long do we have to wait? It’s getting slightly ridiculous. But I digress. This past year, Marcus has torn up the NBA’s G League as a member of the Canton Charge, the minor league affiliate of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He finished with the highest point total on the team (922) while averaging 18.8 points per contest. Unsurprising to Tribe fans, Marcus averaged 38.9% from three-point land this past season.

His hard work did not go unnoticed. The Cavaliers actually signed him to a 10-day contract, but never officially called him up from the Charge. He was also recently invited, along with a handful of selected players, to participate in the NBA G League Elite Mini Camp. The Mini Camp was yet another chance for Marcus to impress NBA scouts as it functioned much like the NBA Combine, with players running through specific drills and exercises. And as he did with the actual NBA Combine a few years ago, Marcus did not disappoint; he even finished #1 in the 3/4 court sprint (3.2 seconds) and #5 in the max vertical jump (37 inches). 

It really does seem as though it’s only a matter of time until Marcus gets called up, and we can only hope that is the case next season. After playing a season in Sydney, Australia, it’s great to see Marcus affiliated with an NBA team state-side. Now let’s get that jersey retired! 

  Daniel Dixon

In addition to Thornton, Daniel Dixon is yet another Tribe basketball player excelling at the G League level. Suiting up for the Maine Red Claws, the minor league affiliate of the NBA’s Boston Celtics, Dixon turned in a stellar year. While logging the most minutes on the team this season, Daniel averaged 13.3 points per game while shooting 35% from beyond the arc. He also finished with the second most points on the team (611). And as you’ll see in the above highlight reel, Dixon really has improved his all-around game since his time in the ‘Burg, most notably in the playmaking/passing department. 

This past year, Daniel averaged 2.7 assists per game, which is tied for second on the team. His ability to get to the rack only to dish it off to a wide open teammate will serve him well as he continues to transition to more of a point guard role at the professional level. And similar to Marcus Thornton, Dixon was also recently invited to the NBA G League Elite Mini Camp. Daniel finished top-5 in multiple drills, including the vertical no-step jump (#2 at 32.5 inches) and #5 in the 3/4 court sprint (at 3.25 seconds).

In fact, as of this week, Dixon was invited to the Orlando Magic’s free agent camp, where he will have a shot at making the team. More to come on that soon!

  Connor Burchfield

Green and Gold fans will have fond memories of Connor Burchfield from just a season ago. His prowess from beyond the three-point arc was more than special last year, as he finished with the #1 3-point FG percentage in the NCAA last season (52%). That stat was good enough for Connor to earn a pre-draft workout with his hometown Charlotte Bobcats (Connor is from North Carolina). And although he was invited to the workout, this is only the beginning for Burchfield, which he openly acknowledges. The odds of being drafted are low, but a potential invite to a summer team looms large. 

If everything goes well, Connor could be looking at a potential future with a G League team, which would get his foot in the door just as fellow W&M alums Marcus Thornton and Daniel Dixon have done. It’s certainly possible; Connor will be a storyline for Tribe faithful to follow this offseason.

 Terry Tarpey

Now say his name with a French accent. Okay, that’s better. Now you’re getting it. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention one of our favorite all-time W&M players, Terry Tarpey. Since graduation, Terry has caught on with Le Mans Sarthe basketball team in France. So far this season, he has averaged 6.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. A little known fact is that Tarpey actual holds dual citizenship with both the U.S. and France, so he seems to be getting the best of both worlds across the pond while playing the sport he knows and loves.

Unfortunately for Terry, he seems to have recently suffered an injury that has kept him out for several games. According to his Twitter page, he’ll be back and ready to go soon — so that’s good news. It’s also good to see that Terry hasn’t changed one bit. The scrappy kid who had a knack for forcing turnovers is now doing it big abroad.

LET’S GO TRIBE.

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