USC Men's Basketball

Gamecocks great Sindarius Thornwell signs with new NBA team

Sindarius Thornwell has found a new NBA team.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Saturday night that the former South Carolina star has agreed to a one-year deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Thornwell, a second round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, averaged 2.5 points and 1.3 rebounds a game the last two seasons for the Los Angeles Clippers. The guard was released by LA on July 6 in the aftermath of the franchise’s blockbuster moves to land Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Thornwell told The State in mid-July that six to seven NBA teams were interested in signing him. At last week’s SC Pro-Am, Thornwell felt confident he wouldn’t be a free agent much longer.

“Once I cleared waivers, teams were calling,” Thornwell said. “I never doubted if I was going to sign or I’m going to get a team, I’m going to get an opportunity. I don’t doubt myself at all when it comes to basketball. I’m one of the most confident basketball players you’ll meet.

“And that’s because of the body of work. Once you do something over and over, how can you doubt yourself? So once it happened, it’s like, ‘Cool, where am I going next? All right, cool, now I get to choose? I get to choose where I can go now? I get to pinpoint … I can look through the rosters and see, ‘All right, I can beat that guy out of a spot, I can go there and win that spot.’”

Cleveland, NBA champions with LeBron James in 2016, are in a rebuilding mode with new coach John Beilein. The Cavs went 19-63 last season and have since brought in Beilein from Michigan and drafted Darius Garland from Vanderbilt.

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com reported that Thornwell’s contract is not guaranteed.

“Technically, the Cavaliers have two open spots and a two-way contract available,” Fedor wrote, “but their salary cap situation makes it unlikely they carry the maximum 15 players into the 2019-20 season. So, Thornwell will try to lock down the 14th spot despite a glut of guards already on the roster.”

The 6-foot-5 Thornwell was an anchor for the Gamecocks all four years on campus. He averaged at least 29 minutes a game each season, and helped the program improve.

His junior year, USC went 25–9. The next season, it went 26-11, making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in more than a decade — and the Final Four for the first time in school history. Thornwell averaged 21.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists and took SEC Player of the Year honors.

Andrew Ramspacher has been covering college athletics since 2010, serving as The State’s USC men’s basketball beat writer since October 2017. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors, Virginia Press Association and West Virginia Press Association. At a program-listed 5-foot-10, he’s always been destined to write about the game. Not play it.
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