As the basketball offseason continues and we move into the fall, Land-Grant Holy Land will put out basketball player and team previews. There will be two previews a week leading all the way into the start of the season, starting with player previews.
Last time to we talked about Roddy Gayle Jr. and what he can bring to the program as a freshman. This time, we are taking a look at fellow freshman and the only true point guard on the roster, Bruce Thornton.
Name: Bruce Thornton
Weight: 205 pounds
High School: Milton High School
2021-22 stats: N/A
Thornton is a 6-foot-2, 205-pound point guard from Milton High School in Alpharetta, Georgia. According to 247Sports, he is the 52nd ranked player in the 2022 class, the 10th ranked point guard in the country and the No. 1 player from the state of Georgia. Thornton was named the Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year and is the second recruit in the class for the Buckeyes to receive that honor this year in their respective state (Brice Sensabaugh, Florida).
Sensabaugh has really taken over a lot of the individual hype as the 2022 class gets to Columbus, but for a large part of their recruitment, Thornton was the guy that Ohio State fans were most excited to see — and for good reason.
Here is the scouting report from 247 Sports recruiting analyst Brandon Jenkins, who also compared to Thornton to former Syracuse point guard Scoop Jardine:
“Thornton is an extremely stocky point guard who looks as if he should be the designated third-down running back recruit for the Buckeyes down the road,” Jenkins said. “Nevertheless, he brings a gridiron mentality to the hardwood as he is tough, agile, and heady. He is terrific with the ball in his hands and is a solid pull-up shooter. He balances his game out as a point guard in the way he never hesitates to advance the ball down the floor on the break or find the open man in the halfcourt. Defensively, he physically locks opponents up and his active hands make him all the more devastating. Due to his thicker frame and phenomenal strength, he tends to over-penetrate at times which can result in forced issues and turnovers. But more times than not, he makes great decisions with the ball and will be a tough and physical lead guard in the Big Ten.”
This scouting report makes sense when you learn that Bruce Thornton Sr., Bruce’s father, played four seasons in the NFL after being a fourth round pick out of the University of Georgia. He might have the body of a football player, but Thornton Jr. is a hooper at heart.
Thornton is also the recruit that most people pointed to as the most college-ready player in the class. However, he talked about his first couple of weeks on campus being somewhat of a struggle.
“It was rough my first week getting my feet wet,” Thornton told Eleven Warriors in July. “But everybody comes together being very cohesive, connecting together. The bond is just great. I love my team no matter what. The season didn’t even start yet, but I already love them. I feel like we’ve got big things ahead of us.”
Thornton added, “The toughest part is just everyday consistency, making sure you go hard every single day. That’s a big main thing. But when you get your feet wet, you understand it’s a business. So, when you take it as a business, you have great success.”
Thornton does not have the luxury that many other freshmen have in terms of development and starting off slow. The Buckeyes will need him to be productive from day one if they want to be successful, and especially when they head to Maui for the Maui Invitational.
He will likely be the starting point guard at some point this season, and there is a real good chance that he is the starting point guard from the very beginning. Anytime you have a true freshman running the show, there can be a learning curve. But Thornton has been praised for his flexibility and his game IQ, so he should be able to step in and learn as he goes.
Thornton basically has the opportunity to play as much as he wants or earns. Guys like Isaac Likekele and Justice Sueing can play the one, but Thornton is the only true point guard on the roster, and there is a real scenario that he starts day one. Him playing anywhere from 20-30 or even around 32 minutes a game come in conference play is a real possibility. I would look more in the 24-28 minutes per game range since the Buckeyes are very deep and will try to tap into that depth. But there is no doubt, Buckeye fans will be seeing a lot of Thornton this season.