Flying in Thursday morning, two days before Michigan’s one-day college practice camp on Saturday, 2016 Findlay Prep (Nev.) five-star point guard Derryck Thornton Jr. and his father received a thorough and extensive experience during their time in Ann Arbor.
“In my opinion the visit was a 15 out of 10,” Thornton Sr. said. “I don’t know if it could have went any better. Spending a lot of time with the coaches and the staff and getting to sit down with (John) Beilein and break down the video and the differences and similarities of him and Trey and some of the different nuances of the game they taught Trey. And then they went over things that Derryck can do and the differences between the two. Derryck might not need the ball screen as much but Trey is a more consistent shooter by the time he was a freshman in college.
“So, we went over a bunch of things like that so just being around the community and meeting with the staff, not just the basketball staff, people around the school. We came in a couple days early so we went over to the student center, the activities center, we met with the athletic director and he’s just an impressive man and the things that he said. I don’t see how it could’ve gone any better on that trip. Maybe if he shot it better (at the camp).”
Having spoken with Michigan’s coaching staff quite a bit over the phone so far, the Thornton’s spent a considerable amount of face time furthering that relationship.
From top to bottom, Thornton Sr. believes Michigan’s staff is a special collection of talented men.
“There’s a lot of bad coaches and then there’s some good ones out there and I would say as a whole, and I haven’t met everybody, but that’s the best interaction that I’ve seen,” Thornton Sr. said. “I felt like Beilein was much more charismatic than maybe I thought he would be, very hands on, took us on our visit, drove the cart, very engaging and felt he was developing a rapport with them right now. He’s just an impressive man, impressive coach, but as a human he’s just very genuine and you know, you didn’t feel like you were being sold anything.
“And then you’ve got LaVall who’s probably the best point guard coach in America. It’s either him or Rod Strickland. He just knows what he’s doing, the nuances of the position, no pressure, but we’re going to work our tails off everyday to get better. And the proof is in the pudding. I watched Derrick Walton play two years ago and I watched him play this weekend and he’s a completely different kid.
“Then you have Bacari who’s like the big brother/dad/I’m not going to let you do anything stupid role, and he handles the big men. And then you’ve got Coach Meyer who was my coach and kind of a father figure himself.
“And the thing that I noticed immediately is that the coaches love each other, and that was big because when they love each other like that it didn’t come off as a job it came off as friends working together and they want to get you here to be a part of what they’re doing. It was awesome.”
As June 15 quickly approaches, Thornton Jr. is certainly in line to pick up a phone call from John Beilein to officially receive a scholarship offer from Michigan.
When that scholarship offer comes, Thornton Sr. isn’t expecting a snap decision from his son but that doesn’t mean Michigan’s standing has diminished at all following the visit.
“I feel like Derryck’s got a pretty good idea of where he stands and what he wants to do,” Thornton Sr. said. “I think that the weather and coming out there and seeing the school during school isn’t a backbreaker, like it’s not going to be the straw that’s going to break the camel’s back but, if I were his age and I was going 2,000 miles away from home, I would like to be as much informed as possible too.
“So, with that being said I feel like he’s pretty clear on a lot of things and we’re just going to play it out but, Michigan is in tremendous, tremendous shape right now.”
For Michigan, Thornton Jr. isn’t the only point guard slated to receive a scholarship offer from the Wolverines in the near future. 2016 U of D (Mich.) Jesuit guard Cassius Winston also impressed at Michigan’s camp and appears to be a strong option as well.
With only one spot for a point guard in the 2016 class, a first come, first serve approach makes sense. Either way, the Thornton’s won’t be spending much time discussing that scenario.
“I look at it like this, if Michigan really wants Cassius they’ll really go get Cassius,” Thornton Sr. said. “If they really want Derryck then they’ll go get Derryck. It’s 50/50 on both sides. They’ll recruit Derryck and they’ll make it known that you’re who we want and he’ll make that decision.
“I believe they want Derryck and I believe Derryck fits the hell out of Michigan. But if they chose to really push for Cassius and go that way, he’s a really good player and I love Cassius and his parents and his dad, we’ve known each other since they were third graders so, I wouldn’t do nothing but wish them luck.”
Asked right here, right now, what school he thinks he wants his son to attend, Thornton Sr. offered some detailed insight.
“You’re putting me on the spot,” Thornton Sr. said laughing. “I put it like this, there’s very few schools that fit his style of play and who he is as well as Michigan does. And I want him to go to a school where he can excel being him and have a terrific college experience, the whole experience; football games, volleyball games and great in class activity and maybe run for student government.
“And I haven’t seen anything more complete, as of right now, than Michigan.”