Former William and Mary star Marcus Thornton, a 6'4 guard from Upper Marlboro, was invited to the NBA Draft Combine and attended Tuesday's pre-draft workouts at Verizon Center. During his college career, he helped lead the Tribe to back-to-back 20 win seasons, consecutive CAA Tournament Finals appearances, and an NIT appearance, just the third in program history. Through it all, Thornton became W&M's all-time leading scorer with 2,178 points, the 2014-15 CAA Player of the Year, and an AP honorable mention All-American. You can watch his video in the embed above or click here.
In the video, Thornton mentioned that one of the issues he would face during this process would be that he never really faced elite competition in college, but was up for the challenge. As a D.C. area native, he acknowledged that the Wizards were one of his favorite teams growing up and even gave some compliments to Paul Pierce.
I get that Thornton's chances of getting drafted are slim at best. But at the same time, it is a pretty big deal, so let me explain why since I'm a W&M alumnus myself from 2006. All in my own convoluted way of explaining things.
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(God, I'm feeling old since 2006 is almost a freaking decade ago... Oh yeah! I almost forgot! The rambling thought!)
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The College of William and Mary is a public university located in Williamsburg, Virginia. It has about 6,000 undergraduate students, big enough so I didn't know everyone there. But it's also small enough so I never felt like I was just a number. The campus is adjacent to -- and part of it is actually in -- Colonial Williamsburg itself, depending on who you ask. It's probably best known for being the alma mater of some presidents in early American History like Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler.
When it comes to big-time college sports, W&M is probably best known for its football program, where they advanced to the Division I FCS Semifinals in 2004 -- when I myself was a student -- and did so again in 2010. The Tribe's most notable football alumni include Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and they also have had six players drafted by NFL teams in the last six years, which is notable for an FCS program.
And, oh yeah, former Pro Bowl safety Darren Sharper also went here too, but he has some baggage to say the least. SMH.
But basketball? The Tribe was never relevant in the CAA, at least when I was attending there. In fact, W&M has never made the NCAA Tournament and is one of just five original Division I programs to have never made it to the Big Dance. Most years, at least in recent memory, W&M was never in the picture when it came to basketball of either sex.
When you consider that Thornton played a big part towards improving W&M's consistency over his career, as well as head coach Tony Shaver who has brought the Tribe to four total CAA Tournament runner-up finishes, it all ends up being a big deal for the Tribe men's basketball program, and for a lot of sports-crazed alumni like myself.
Finally, our own Amin Vafa also graduated from W&M, though I don't recall meeting him during my time there. In addition, Akbar Naqvi is a current W&M student. I know he shares this sentiment too.
I don't really know how to end this rambling thought, so I'll finish by saying this to the man himself. Whether you end up playing with the Wizards or another NBA team, now or in the future, go get 'em Marcus, and represent W&M well!