INDIANAPOLIS—It’s rare for a student-athlete heading into his sophomore year of high school to have the unique opportunity to train with and even compete against basketball talent that takes the floor in an NBA arena for 82 games a year. But 2016 Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep point guard Derryck Thornton Jr. is a rare talent in his own right.
Standing 6-foot-2 with a lightning quick 170-pound frame, Thornton Jr. is a special blend of superior athleticism, size for his position, a balanced scorer and distributor possessing court vision well beyond his years. Add in a workers’ mentality and Thornton Jr. is a menace on both ends of the floor.
“I just feel like the hardest (working) man always wins,” Thornton Jr. told GoBlueWolverine. “I never want to get outworked by anyone. My shots might not be falling one day or my passes might not be going all the way through but I always want to play as hard as I can and I feel like that separates me from a lot of people.”
Never one to shy away from competition, part of the reason for his transfer to Findlay Prep after spending his freshman season at Sierra (Calif.) Canyon high school, Thornton Jr. took his lunch pail mentality with him to compete as the only non-professional basketball player working out five, even six hours a day in Los Angeles, including the likes of NBA point guards Sebastian Telfair and C.J. Watson.
Working through drills, picking up tips, and participating in some full court games, Thornton Jr. is soaking the experience up like a sponge.
“They have a lot of little secrets that they know to their game that they teach me,” Thornton Jr. said. “It helps a lot just on defense and offense, sneaky stuff.
“It’s a lot of little stuff that they help me with but it’s a lot of fun.”
Sharing the same love for competition dating all the way back to his father’s time as a college basketball player with Liberty in the early 90’s, Thornton Jr. said his dad has been instrumental in the ebb and flow of his escalating basketball development.
“My dad is my best friend so we do everything together and we make all decisions together,” Thornton Jr. said. “I feel like he always puts me in the right situation since I’ve been a young guard, so, I love my dad a lot. He always puts me in the right position to look well but also get better.”
Competing with Dream Vision 16u at the Adidas Invitational, despite spending the entire spring playing up with the 17u squad, Thornton Jr. starred with the ball in his hands during the first of three evaluation periods in July, showing crisp decision-making, needle threading passes in traffic, a consistent outside shot, and a reckless abandon attacking the rim looking to dunk on any and all defenders attempting to slide over (Thornton Jr. just recently began dunking the basketball and plans to put someone on a poster soon).
Holding offers from Arizona, Connecticut, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, and USC, among others, Thornton Jr. has been in regular contact with the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan assistant Jeff Meyer continues to build on an already strong bond, having coached Thornton Jr.’s father 20 years earlier, hoping the old adage rings true in this scenario, like father, like son.
“I love how Michigan plays and they’re pretty high on my list,” Thornton Jr. said. “I’m pretty open right now, but I love Michigan.”
The Thornton’s plan on making it to Ann Arbor for an unofficial visit this fall, pinpointing the Wolverines football night game against Notre Dame on Sep. 7.
To watch the full video interview with Thornton Jr., including his thoughts on new USC coach Andy Enfield, press play below.