Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wednesday Where Are They Now?: Bootsy Thornton

Ever wonder what happened to those college stars that couldn't catch on in the NBA? The guys that put up the great numbers or the guys that left early, and were never heard from again? Every Wednesday, we at BIAH will take a look at a former college star that never made it in the NBA, and we will update you on where he is playing or what he is doing. We're guessing the results will surprise you. To request a player, leave a comment in the comments section.

Bootsy Thornton, St. John's

After starring for famed Dunbar High School in Baltimore, Maryland (where NBA players Sam Cassell, Muggsy Bogues, and David Wingate went), Thornton failed to qualify academically, so he went to Tallahassee Community College for two years, where he scored 1,329 points and earned first team NJCAA all-america honors. After TCC, Thornton went to St. John's, where he helped to lead the Johnnie's back into the national spotlight. As a junior, Thornton led the team in scoring at 14.9 ppg as St. John's reached the finals of the Big East tournament and eventually the Elite 8 in the NCAA's. His most memorable performance was an early-season outburst against Duke when he put up 40 points, although the Red Storm eventually lost to the Blue Devils in OT. Thornton was named 2nd team all-Big East. As a senior, Thornton averaged 15.3 ppg and 5.5 rpg and led St. John's to the Big East tournament title, where he was named the most outstanding player. The Johnnies earned a two-seed in the NCAA tournament, but were upset in the second round by Gonzaga.

After St. John's, Thornton went undrafted by the NBA, and despite being selected by some minor league teams, he decided to head overseas, where he joined the Italian League team Pallacanestro Cantu. In his third season with Cantu, Thornton averaged 17.9 ppg, which was enough to get the attention of Montepaschi Siena, who not only play in the Italian League, but also are a Euroleague competitor. Thornton was a key addition for Siena, averaging 15.9 ppg and 14.1 ppg in his first two seasons. In 2003-04, Thornton's first year with Siena, the team won the Italian League title and advanced all the way to the Final Four of the Euroleague. The following season they won the Super cup title.

Thornton has garnered a rep in Euro basketball similar to that of Robert Horry here, meaning that he is considered a "winner" because he always plays a significant role for very good teams. In 2005-06, Thornton signed with Spanish powerhouse FC Barcelona, where he teamed with NBA-ers Juan Carlos Navarro and Marc Gasol, as well as former Tar Heels Ed Cota and Shammond Williams. Thornton struggled with injuries during the year, averaging just 6.2 ppg, but was a key contributor down the stretch as Barcelona reached the Final Four of the Euroleague.

Thornton moved onto Akasvayu Girona the following season, where he played even fewer minutes (15 mpg, 5.2 ppg), but helped lead Girona to the FIBA Eurocup title in 2007. This past season, Thornton resigned with Siena. He averaged 9.0 ppg in Italian League play as Siena won the Italian League championship, and then averaged 10.5 ppg as Siena advanced to the Final Four of the Euroleague. He was voted second-team all-euroleague.

Thornton has signed a contract with the Turkish powerhouse Efes Pilsen for the 2008-09 season. There, he will team with former collegians Drew Nicolas (Maryland), Kenny Gregory (Kansas), Scoonie Penn (Ohio State), and Loren Woods (Arizona).


Diggedy said...

Good post.

Would love to see a Marcus Hatten one.

Anonymous said...

Yes, definitely Marcus Hatten. Believe he was playing in Israel at one point