LANCASTER | Barely able to stand and struggling to crack a smile, Sindarius Thornwell walked off the court Tuesday ready to find a place to sleep. Any place would have sufficed.
The Lancaster sophomore had helped the Bruins to a wild 100-97 win over Rock Hill in four overtimes, scoring 29 points and pulling down 12 rebounds in what amounted to a six-quarter contest.
It was obvious the last thing he wanted to do was face the media, but the 6-foot-5, 175-pound wing relented, putting off sleep for a few more minutes. Thornwell is beginning to understand the realities he’s going to face over the course of the next two years.
He’s considered the state’s top prospect in the Class of 2013 and that brings added expectations, responsibilities and demands on his time. South Carolina, Clemson, Charlotte and Tennessee State have already offered scholarships, with others from the ACC, SEC and Big Ten showing interest.
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“He’s a sophomore and he’s got special intangibles,” Lancaster coach Ricardo Priester said. “He’s got tremendous upside. He’s only a sophomore and only 15 years old. He’s got a lot of God-given ability, but the thing that makes him special is that he knows he needs to get better.”
Thornwell, ranked 47th overall and 14th among small forwards by ESPN in the sophomore class, certainly has the frame and the athleticism to develop into a special prospect, but it was obvious Tuesday that he’s not there yet.
In fact, this marathon contest could have ended much sooner had Thornwell been playing with the savvy of a veteran. Instead, a lackadaisical pass late in the first overtime cost the Bruins a layup and allowed the Bearcats to extend the game.
But there are other moments we he certainly looks like a star in the making. There was his acrobatic, 3-point play late in the third overtime, his 3-pointer from the corner midway through the final overtime and many other moments before this game took a turn for the surreal.
This wasn’t his best game of the season, but it was indicative of his great potential.
“I just get the team involved, penetrate, play [defense] and play hard,” said Thornwell, who hasn’t started assessing his college choices. “I’m a leader. I try to keep everybody in place and keep everybody’s mindset [on the right track].”
Thornwell has matured significantly as a player over the course of the last year, Priester said. He played mostly inside for the Bruins last season, but his production was integral for a team that won 26 games and a region championship.
Lancaster is 17-6 this season, and Thornwell has been just as important. However, he’s moved into a more comfortable role on the wing, where his ball handling, shooting, slashing and passing have helped the Bruins flourish as a perimeter-oriented team.
“He continues to evolve as a player,” Priester said. “I think the sky is the limit if he continues to approach the game the right way.”