The Fab 48 tournament in Las Vegas often highlights players who are top-tier recruits looking for extra exposure to enhance their recruitment. While there are leagues that consist of younger prospects, the vast majority of focus is spent on players on the verge of entering college basketball.
Every so often, however, there is a prospect or two that prove to be years ahead of his age in terms of basketball maturity. Last week in Las Vegas, that player was class of 2016 point guard Derryck Thornton. The 6-foot-1 floor general is just entering ninth grade, yet suited up for the CBC 16U squad.
Thornton is a smooth ball player, regardless of his age. His ball handling is elite for a true point guard and his court vision is uncanny for a player who hasn't touched a high school basketball floor.
His play was so impressive during the Fab 48 tournament that coaches like Sean Miller and Washington's Lorenzo Romar took time to watch Thornton play. While he is still young, having two of the best coaches in the Pac-12 motivated him to perform at his best.
"It means a lot," Thornton said. "I'm just trying to play my best and come out here and play hard and win."
Thornton's advanced game can be credited to his work ethic. He puts in several hours a day and it shows in his development.
"I practice three or four times a day," Thornton said. "I go before school and I try to get in as much as I can."
Thornton's game resembles many current NBA and college point guards at his age. He studies the players that have come before him and tries to take a little from everyone he observes.
"I like Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Deron Williams," Thornton said. "A little bit of everybody."
While most kids who are athletes and just entering ninth grade want to play for their favorite squads or programs, Thornton feels he is too far away from college to think about any potential destination.
"I have no idea," Thornton said. "I am wide open."
The support group around Thornton is strong and he has a great coach on the AAU circuit in Tyrone Nichols – which can be very hard to come across, especially at that young of an age. For a kid being as good as Thornton is at such a young age, keeping him grounded is something his coach prioritizes.
"He just tells me, ‘Don't let your head get too big and just keep playing hard and it will all work out for you,'" Thornton said.
Thornton taking it all in stride
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