In the age of one-and-done college players, Sindarius Thornwell is a grizzled old man, having played four seasons with the South Carolina Gamecocks. The senior draft prospect is the exception, not the rule. Perhaps the biggest knock on his draft stock is his age— 22.
However, Thornwell is a terrific two-way player who spends just as much energy on the defensive end of the court as he does the offensive end. The 6-5, 210 guard averaged 21.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists his senior year at South Carolina, and led the Gamecocks on a magical run to the Final Four, the first in school history.
Thornwell told Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders about what he offers that you can’t necessarily expect from a blue chip freshman:
“I bring more toughness (than the freshman players),” he said. “Physically, I already can compete, and I’m mature enough to understand my role and not get as upset about maybe not playing as much right away. Plus, I’m able to guard. Young guys don’t understand, that’s what’s going to get you minutes.
“That’s what I’m selling myself on, is giving team’s stars a break on defense so they can compete more on offense, but I also know I can score. You’ve got 18-year-old freshman heading into this draft that have never scored 18 points in a game. There are guys who averaged 10 points a game being talked about in the lottery, whereas I’ve proven myself to be a good scorer.”
The Portland Trail Blazers have three picks in the 2017 NBA Draft, numbers 15, 20, and 26 overall. Although Thornwell is predicted by many to be a second round pick, the Trail Blazers have scheduled a workout with him. Brigham notes that no Basketball Insider mock drafter has him slated to go in the first round. Nbadraft.net currently has him going at 38, and Draft Express currently has him going at 55.
Thornwell should be on the Trail Blazers radar, given how much they struggled defensively last season, particularly in the backcourt. His toughness could also help a team that had their effort questioned on multiple occasions. If Portland is interested, the question could become do the Trail Blazers use one of their first round picks on the experienced Thornwell, or should they take their chances and try to buy into the second round, as they did last year, and hope he is still on the board?
Time will tell, but it appears that Thornwell could be a valuable piece for the Trail Blazers’ future, and at a very affordable cost.