INDIANAPOLIS, IN — Spring has sprung which means basketballs are bouncing on courts all across the country at AAU tournaments. This past weekend, one of the best tournaments in all of the Midwest took place, as Made Hoops Midwest Mania hosted top teams from Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and even Canada for a weekend of highly competitive basketball.
Another state that was represented at Midwest Mania was Florida as E1T1 from the Nike EYBL circuit made the long trip north. Leading E1T1 was 2022 Ohio State point guard commit Bruce Thornton. This is Thornton’s first season playing with the sunshine state powerhouse program but you could not tell that from watching him. And of course, Buckeye Scoop was there to see Thornton play in person.
Thornton and his E1T1 team went 2-1 on Saturday, including a huge 30-point win over the top player in the country Emoni Bates and his Bates Fundamental team. Following his Saturday slate, we caught up with Thornton to go a bit deeper into why he chose the Buckeyes last Thanksgiving day.
“It was really just the relationship I built with the whole coaching staff, but really [Ohio State head] coach [Chris] Holtmann and [assistant coach] Jake Diebler,” Thornton told Buckeye Scoop. “I mean with the connection I built with those two I feel like wherever they went I would be right there with them.”
Diebler is Thornton’s primary recruiter in Columbus and one of the biggest reasons why he picked the Buckeyes. Diebler was recently appointed the defensive coordinator at Ohio State by Holtmann, a position that Thornton thinks he will excel in.
“Oh yes sir, I believe in what Diebler is gonna have to say for the whole team and know he will us to win, it ain’t even close,” Thornton said. “I never think he will put us in danger or anything but I feel like he knows what he’s talking about. I’ve got confidence in the whole coaching staff and we’ll see how it goes.”
Diebler and the Buckeyes pulled Thornton out of Georgia without ever getting the point guard on campus. Now that the dead period has an end in sight, Thornton is very excited to get to Columbus.
“I’m really looking forward to it. Just to see where I’m gonna be livin’, see where I’ll be working out at, and see what I’m gonna be doing in Ohio,” he said. “I mean, I’m gonna be there for four years or however many years I’ll be there, so yeah I am really looking forward to it.”
In the meantime, Thornton is getting ready for Ohio State by getting to know his fellow 2022 commits Roddy Gayle Jr. and Bowen Hardman. Those three guards give the Buckeyes the country’s top-ranked class, and Thornton has high expectations for the trio.
“I feel like we’ve got the best guards in the country. So against anybody, I feel like us three could beat anybody,” he said. “That’s just the confidence I have in those two and myself. And the coaching staff we have with it, I feel like we are in the best program with the best coaches so I feel like we’re gonna make great results.”
Speaking of coaching, Thornton is a student of the game and after watching Ohio State play last season he is beginning to see what his role will be in Columbus. And even some current Buckeyes are helping him with that.
“Yes, in certain sets and certain situations I put myself in those shoes and see what I can do, what I can do differently, what I can do better,” he said. “I was having a conversation with C.J [Walker] and Duane [Washington Jr.] and they told me the truth about how Ohio State is and I just feel like I’m lucky for them to be talking to me, letting me know ahead of time what’s going on.”
That wasn’t Thornton’s first conversation with the Buckeyes’ starting backcourt last season and it likely wasn’t the last either. As a matter of fact, those conversations played a factor in him picking the Buckeyes.
“It was a huge factor, I’m big on trust,” he said. “For them to keep it honest with me and tell me how it is for real, I really take that into consideration. Most guys don’t have to do that and I’m lucky for those guys to do that with me. I’m thankful.”
The Buckeyes not only got a talented player but also a very bright young man in Thornton and he is all in on playing his college ball in Columbus. Until then, he’ll just have to enjoy his official visit this June.