USC Grad Transfer Derryck Thornton Joins BC for 2019-20 Season

Three days from now, Boston College men’s basketball point guard Ky Bowman has a good chance of becoming the second Eagle in the past two years to be selected in the NBA Draft. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein, Bowman and 2018 lottery pick Jerome Robinson’s ascent gravitated one of the most coveted names in this year’s transfer portal toward BC.

On Monday, Rothstein reported that Southern California point guard Derryck Thornton—who was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and played the 2015-16 season with Duke—has decided to join head coach Jim Christian for the 2019-20 campaign. Thornton picked the Eagles over St. John’s, Texas Tech, Auburn, and, most notably, Gonzaga.

Thornton is immediately eligible and will likely replace Bowman as BC’s point guard, starting alongside Wynston Tabbs, either Jared or Jairus Hamilton, Steffon Mitchell, and Nik Popovic.

After reclassifying, the Chatsworth, Calif., native emerged as a heralded recruit back in 2015. In fact, he earned a grade of 90 from ESPN, ranking 17th among ESPN 100 recruits and received offers from schools like Duke, Arizona, Kentucky, and Michigan. He ultimately committed to the Blue Devils following the program’s fifth national championship and the departure of point guard Tyus Jones.

While at Duke, Thornton had his fair share of ups and downs, but he played in all 36 of the team’s games in 2015-16, making 20 starts in the process. When all was said and done, he eclipsed double digits on seven separate occasions and ended his freshman season averaging 7.1 points and 2.6 assists per game. Toward the end of the season, though, his minutes declined, as he began to come off the bench in postseason play.

With the recruitment of point guard Frank Jackson and a talented Blue Devils lineup that would also include Jayson Tatum, Luke Kennard, Grayson Allen, and Harry Giles, Thornton transferred to USC, returning to his home state. Like most transfers, he had to sit out a year (2016-17). And once the 2017-18 season rolled around, he found himself playing behind senior Trojan point guard Jordan McLaughlin, who led the Pac-12 with 7.8 assists per game.

Thornton started just one game the whole season and averaged a mere 14.2 minutes and 3.8 points per contest. This past season, the 6-foot-3 guard finally returned to the starting rotation and put up similar numbers to his first year in Durham, N.C. During the 2018-19 campaign, Thornton recorded 7.7 points, 4.3 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per game on 38.2 percent shooting.

He got off to a terrific start, posting 10 or more points in seven of his first 14 outings, but only reached that mark three times in the final 18 games of the year. Thornton was inconsistent to say the least and, at times, struggled with decision-making, even committing five turnovers in three separate games.

USC finished the year 16-17, missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year. Come May, Trojans head coach Andy Enfield confirmed that Thornton was leaving the program. Monday’s report lands the court general in Chestnut Hill for his final year of eligibility.

Thornton, who hasn’t shot above 39 percent from the field—or higher than 32.5 percent from downtown—in each of his collegiate seasons, isn’t a marksman. But he is a good defender who can handle the ball, find the open man, space the floor, and score when he needs to.

According to BartTorvik.com, Thornton increases BC’s T-Rank projection—a metric dictated by offensive and defensive efficiency—by six spots, from 105 to 99. The Eagles’ adjusted offensive efficiency is projected to rise from 106.3 to 107.4 with the veteran guard on their roster.

Everything will have to come together for Thornton to join Bowman and Robinson in the NBA, but if he gets even close to entering the draft discussion, BC might once again find itself in the mix for an NCAA Tournament bid.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Senior Staff

Andy Backstrom
About Andy Backstrom 412 Articles
Andy is the managing editor of The Heights. He is from the suburbs of Philly, but has been an Arizona Cardinals enthusiast since the first grade. Every so often, he'll replay Super Bowl XLIII on Madden to exact revenge on his father's beloved Steelers. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyHeights.