Thornton Sr: Beilein ‘Different’ Than Others

2016 Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep five-star point guard Derryck Thornton Jr. is in the midst of setting up visits this fall while college coaches roll through his gym. Thornton’s father discusses John Beilein’s recent visit, news on his healing broken hand, upcoming trips, and more.

Derryck Thornton Jr. is waiting on some good news.

Spending most of August and now September playing one-handed after breaking a bone in his left hand over the summer, the No. 1 ranked point guard in the country -- No. 6 overall prospect -- and 2016 Findlay (Nev.) Prep five-star point guard Derryck Thornton Jr. is close to 100-percent.

“We had the MRI and the CT scan and they put him in a brace for the last few weeks,” Thornton’s father Derryck Thornton Sr. said. “So, he’s just been working on his legs and getting more explosive and stronger that way and he’s doing some one hand shots which has kind of cleaned up his jumper a bit so it ended up being a great big blessing.”

Remaining active in his training and finding other ways to improve his skill set overall, several college programs continued to roll through the gym at Findlay eager to see who they hope will be leading their team at the point guard position in a couple years.

Those schools include Louisville, Kentucky, California, Arizona, UNLV, USC, UCLA, Duke, Miami, North Carolina State, and Michigan.

The Wolverines remain an intriguing option for the Thornton’s, Thornton Sr. of course playing for Michigan assistant Jeff Meyer at Liberty in the early 90’s.

But this time, the visit was all about the man in charge in Ann Arbor, Coach John Beilein.

“The thing about Coach Beilein is he’s the kind of guy that it extends outside of basketball,” Thornton Sr. said. “His conversation is a little different than other coaches, he’s real calm and it’s not let’s get you here and get you to the NBA.

“It’s, let’s get you here and you’ll grow up as a man. So, just his whole recruiting strategy and the way he’s recruiting is just different than most. He’s not saying we have this many pros and this and that it’s where do you see yourself after you play basketball and how can we help support that dream of yours.

“There’s just a different style and I’m going to be honest with you, it’s different from everybody, it’s very different from everyone I talk to. He’s just a different guy and then company that with the fact that he’s a brilliant coach, he’s the package.”

On the court, Thornton Jr. commands an offense better than most and in a way that makes him very valuable at the next level.

With great ability and understanding of when to score the ball or set a teammate up for an easy one, John Beilein’s system looks to be a solid fit for the 6-foot-2, 165-pound floor general.

“Coach Beilein’s offense is really spread,” Thornton Sr. said. “The Big Ten isn’t really known for having great spacing, it’s kind of a rough and tumble style of basketball.

“He brings something completely different to the table if you watch what he does and how he does what he does.

“He puts guys in space, pick and rolls all over the court and somebody like my son, the way he plays in space, if you get him on top he’s going to kill you. It definitely is a great asset and something we’re looking at closely.”

Clearly a major commodity for several schools across the country, the Thornton’s do plan to hit the road themselves for visits this fall with a few currently setup, and others that will be soon.

“We’re going to hit midnight madness at Kentucky,” Thornton Sr. said. “We’re going to get down to Duke but I haven’t sat down and picked out a date with Coach K yet.

“We’ve talked about getting up to Michigan and it doesn’t have to be for a football game, my son just wants to see what it’s like to go to school there. It would definitely be getting down there on a Friday and if there’s a football game there great, if not it doesn’t bother us at all. He just wants to get a feel for what it would be like to go to school and that’s on all the visits, we’re going to get there a day early and just kind of see what it’s like.

“We’re going to UCLA on the 10th of October and for us that’s right around the corner, that’s my house, that’s where we’re from. Those are the four that I’ve talked to the coaches about so far, maybe Cal Berkley, but those are the four we’ve talked about as a family the most.”

Another area of this recruitment in the process of being discussed is when a top list of schools could be released.

Although interest and offers continue to roll in seemingly daily, a more narrowed focus appears to be on the horizon.

“Derryck’s ready to cut it down,” Thornton Sr. said. “So, we’ll cut it down pretty soon. I think he’s got 27 offers so it’ll probably be between anywhere from seven to 10 like immediately, he’s ready to go.”

Asked directly if a leader has emerged for Thornton Jr., his father kept things vague but did at least reveal there are a few programs standing out right now.

“I would say there’s three leaders in the clubhouse right now,” Thornton Sr. said. “I would say there’s three schools that have stepped forward a little bit out of the mix.

“There’s still a little bit of time and he still very much wants to get to know guys better but as of right now three schools are kind of saying I’m here, what’s going on.”

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