He sat in a semicircle around a smaller TV, away from the big one broadcasting Thursday’s NBA Draft to a room full of family, friends and well-wishers. Every time he scrolled the screen or answered his phone, the circle that kept expanding behind him held its breath, then dejectedly exhaled.
Pick 30, 31, 32 …
They’d all gathered for the draft at the Moose Lodge, most wearing garnet and black South Carolina shirts to match the room’s decorations. Sindarius Thornwell wore a black shirt with red trim and black jeans, coming to the party about 10 picks in and waiting for the call that would change his life.
Pick 38, 39, 40 …
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Next one had to be it, said the hopeful faces of teammate Tommy Corchiani and former teammates Sedee Keita, Ran Tut and Demetrius Henry. “Keep your eyes on the screen, y’all!” yelped the DJ, beginning to wind down from the dance party that had broken out at the end of the first round.
Pick 44, 45, 46 …
Everyone knew it wouldn’t be in the first round. That’s what all the mock projections said. Everyone figured it would be sometime in the last 20 picks.
“Oh, he’s gonna get picked,” declared mom Sharicka Thornwell. “We don’t know who or when, but he will get picked.”
The screen glowed green, the roar came from the back room, and there it was. Sindarius Thornwell, pick 48, to Milwaukee. The first Gamecock drafted since 2006.
Screams. Confetti. The requests for Thornwell to come speak.
And then the screen glowed again – not Milwaukee. Los Angeles. The Clippers had traded for Thornwell, along with Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans, a Greenville native.
Two South Carolina kids on the West Coast? There are worse things.
“Definitely ready to get out there with him,” Thornwell said. “I’m just ready for the entire experience.”
The SEC Player of the Year and third-leading scorer in USC history, Thornwell notched the best individual year in program history. Most figured he’d done enough to get picked, but where would he go?
Sharicka was like many – she didn’t care where her son went but would prefer somewhere relatively close. “But if he goes out west, that’s fine,” she said. “I’ll travel.”
Her son was looking forward to it. He’d already bought the transportation for his cross-country move – a brand-new black Porsche, purchased Thursday morning.
“I feel like it’s the best situation for me,” Thornwell said. “I can fit right in there on the wing, defending and scoring the ball.”
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