One on one with Derryck Thornton, Jr.

Following his visit to Durham, five star point guard Derryck Thornton, Jr. has a lot to think about. We sat down with the high major lead guard to discuss the potential of reclassifying, making a decision, and what his overall impressions of Coach K’s program are at this point.

Heard you had a couple of games past few days Derryck, how did they go?

Derryck Thornton, Jr.: Yeah it was good, i’m a little tired but other than that it was pretty good, especially with the traveling I’ve done recently. I feel like everything is going great, our season has been going great with our team, everybody has been playing well. We’ve got a great coaching staff, a lot of the guys are the same on the staff with some of them moving up. It’s good working with them, they are giving us a lot of responsibility this year, they put a lot of trust in me which is good, I think they are doing a great job.

What’s it like for you having all the attention for your game and with the high ranking you’ve achieved, and how do you handle it?

I guess it’s cool but I try to not focus on that, I try to focus on getting better, winning and just having fun.

Any updates to your vital stats of late?

Height…I’m about 6’2, weight I’m right around 174 and I haven’t had my wingspan measured in awhile.

What kind of things are you really working on these days with skill development?

Skill work I’m doing a lot of shooting these days, you can always work on your shot especially with your form so you can become a better shooter. I’m also doing a lot of ball-handling stuff and just refining a lot of my game and just try to make all facets of my game better, you can never not improve on your game.

I know guys like to watch other players in college and in the NBA during their seasons—is there anybody you are paying close attention to this year?

I really like watching the NBA game, I really like watching players like Steph Curry, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving. Those are my top three guys to watch in the League, I really enjoy watching those teams and those players.

What do you like about watching Kyrie play?

He just does a great job at attacking, he’s always in attack mode. He’s really starting to get it together even more this year, at the beginning of the year he was struggling a little bit because he was learning how to play with LeBron who was ball dominant a bit. He’s doing a great job, normally he’s in attack mode but he has a will to win which I really like.

Have you ever had the chance to interact personally with any of those guys?

Yeah I have a really good relationship with Steph Curry. I went to his Camp this past summer and after that, we built a really good relationship, him and I talk a lot. I tweet at Kyrie a few times but I haven’t talked to him in person before but over social media we have talked a few times. With Steph it’s more like a personal relationship. Steph gives me a lot of input, especially at his Camp because right now it’s hard because he’s in his season but over the summer we talked a lot. He just said how much it’s a journey, never give up, your time will always come, you just need to be ready is what he says to me.

Speaking of interacting with players, with the programs recruiting you Derryck—have you had a lot of interactions with current players on the teams?

Yeah definitely, especially when I go on the visits I have gotten to talk a lot with the players. It’s a lot of fun. Like for example at Duke, I’ve known Jahlil for awhile because when I was younger, I played at a Camp with him, so I’ve known him for awhile. Just to be able to hang out with the players and hear what they think about the school, that’s been real cool.

To follow up—how far back does your relationship go with Jahlil?

Oh man I think I was in the 6th grade and he was like a freshman or something, somewhere around there I think. It was a camp called the Eat All American Camp or something like that, it was in LA. So we’ve been talking off and on since then, we have a good relationship and we check in on how each other is doing, stuff like that.

Did you spend a lot of time with him when you were on campus at Duke for your recent visit?

They were pretty busy but when i was around the players I talked with Jahlil a lot, I talked with Justise, Tyus, Quinn, pretty much everybody. I had a pretty good talk with Jahlil, just see how he was doing and stuff. We talked about his experience at Duke, but we also talked about life and we talked about how we’re doing in life, just kinda catching up.

What kind of impression did you form of the guys on your Duke visit—was there anything you learned about anybody that you didn’t know going in?

They are all real good guys, they all really respect the coaches and the school and they are all just a really great group of guys. They get along like a family which is good to see, you never know with a team if all the guys are really close, so that was cool to see that there.

Going into the Duke visit with it being your first time on campus—what kind of questions did you personally have that you were hoping to learn more about and what were your takeaways from what you experienced on the visit?

I didn’t really go into it with any questions to be honest, we just kinda wanted to take in the experience and try to figure out if I could see myself going there and how I would fit in. Just taking it all in, it’s a great school, I would be honored to go to a place like Duke.

What kind of things did you discuss with the coaches when you had opportunity to meet with them?

We just talked about just the school, kind of how they see I would fit in there. That was my first time seeing them on campus in person, so we were just building the relationship better and talking a little about everything, just how I feel about the school and some personal stuff.

Your dad mentioned that you and Coach K talk a lot—how have you seen your relationship grow with him since you two first started talking?

It’s been great, he’s a great guy, a legendary coach. It’s just an honor to be able to talk to him and he’s just been a great guy. He’s just a great guy, a humble guy, he’s always very positive with the guys which is great, he’s really easy to talk to.

What were your impressions of the facilities and the school itself when you were on campus at Duke?

Everything is beautiful, the campus is extremely nice and there’s a lot of trees, it’s got an old vibe to it and the campus is just extremely beautiful and the gym is just really nice and I had a lot of fun.

With practice and the game—what do you really remember about what you saw?

Everything is high level, practice all the coaches are very positive with the guys and they really trust the guys and the guys really trust the coaches. I think you can tell that they have a really great relationship with the coaches, and I think that’s very important.

Now that you have visited Duke and as you evaluate where they stand in relationship to the other schools recruiting you—do you consider them a leader at this point, or is everything even with all the schools recruiting you?

I think they did a great job, I had an amazing time on the trip. Where they stand, they are in a great position right now and I really love the school.

Your dad and I discussed the the option to reclassify for you that’s on the table. To start I wanted to ask how you reacted to Louisville and Duke both telling you that if you wanted to reclassify and come in early that they would be good with that?

  I’ll consider it…I’m considering it but there are some pros and cons to it. I’m going back and forth with it in my thoughts, there’s always some good and some bad with it. I’m still kinda in the middle of my decision, but I’m definitely working through it.

From your opinion Derryck—what are the pros and cons for you personally between staying in 2016 or going to the 2015 class?

I think going next year it would be good and hard to go to college next year but I feel like I’ve been working hard for awhile and there are some goals I’ve set in high school that I sorta want to reach, stuff like the McDonalds Game and other Games, stuff like that that I’ve been working hard towards for a long time. So that would be a pro to staying in high school but going to college I feel like, I’ve also been preparing for college so I also feel that getting there early could be a good thing as well.

As you evaluate those pros and cons—at this point do you think it’s more important to you personally to potentially stay and earn the possibility to play in the McDonald’s All American Game and other All Star Games over going to college early?

I feel like my goals are probably the most important right now.

How big a factor for your personal thought process will it be which guys go pro or come back to school with the programs recruiting you in your final decision making process?

It crosses my mind but I feel like I’m not rushing into anything. I feel like that definitely does play a part in the situation because you want to see where the best fit is for you and I want to be able to see kinda what the guys at the school are already doing and see, that definitely will play a part in my decision to come in early or not.

What’s your reaction to the discussion about you and Dennis Smith potentially playing together in college Derryck?

A little bit, it’s not something I try to focus on too too much. It’s possible, with the social media stuff I just try to focus as much as possible on the game and that’s it. I’ve heard a few comments about that a little bit, but I’m just trying to focus on this season and just getting better overall.

From a role perspective for you—do you think it presents some advantages or opportunities for you if a school wanted to bring you and Dennis in together?

I mean, I feel like it could work definitely. I don’t think it would be a better situation for either one of us but if the situation were to happen, I definitely think it could work.

How much conversation are you having with other guys in your class about potentially playing together in college?

Definitely, especially with going to different camps with guys, stuff like USA and with being recruited by some of the same schools as some of these guys, you definitely get to talk about going to the same colleges and stuff like that. I talk with Tyus Battle about that a lot, I talk to Skal Labissiere a little bit even though he’s in the class above me, I talk to Harry Giles a little bit about it, but that’s pretty much it. Harry and I just started talking about that a little bit more recently, we had a relationship awhile back but with the distance we live a part makes it hard to regularly talk about that but I do think it’s something that could be good for the both of us.

How frequently are you and Tyus talking about playing together in college? Is that a really serious option for you guys as you discuss it?
We talk a lot about it, he’s been a friend for awhile, since the like 6th grade. I feel like he’s a great player, we talk a lot about playing together at the next level. We discuss a little bit about what schools are saying to us. We like a lot of the same schools and we have a lot of the same interests as far as schools goes that are recruiting us. 

Your dad mentioned you guys wanting to setup some official visits for you in the future. Is there a potential timeframe that you guys feel like you need to take the official visits before a certain date?

  Sometime after the season. Right now I’m focused on my high school season. I feel like any time I can get a school out of the way after the season is over would be good, whenever the best timeframe is for me and my family, that’s when I will take the visits.

Do you think for you there are any no-brainer schools that you really want to visit officially for sure?

I think Duke, Kentucky and Louisville are no-brainers. I feel like those schools are the schools I talk to the most and I think everything is good relationship wise with them.

In closing—what for you will be the major factors you decide on when you make your college pick?

I feel like the relationship with the coaches is the most important. I think the other important things will be the social aspect, that will be important and academics too.

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