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BROOKLYN, N.Y. – William & Mary men’s basketball All-American Marcus Thornton was selected 45th overall by the Boston Celtics in the second round of the 2015 NBA Draft on Thursday night from the Barclays Center.
Thornton is the ninth Tribe player drafted into the NBA, the first since 1985 and the highest W&M selection since 1961.
“I am extremely happy and proud of Marcus,” W&M head coach Tony Shaver said. “It is a testament to all his hard work that he was an NBA Draft pick for an organization like the Boston Celtics. I have said it numerous times, but I have never coached a player who spent more time in the gym or worked as hard as Marcus Thornton. The true mark of a great player is his ability to make his team and those around him better, and that will be Marcus’s legacy at W&M. This is a strong statement for both Marcus and the Tribe basketball program.”
Thornton is the first Tribe player since Keith Cieplicki in 1985 to be selected and the first under the NBA’s current two-round Draft system. Cieplicki was the 22nd pick of the seventh round (161st overall) by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Thornton is only the second Tribe player to be selected in the first two rounds of the NBA Draft and the highest W&M selection since Jeff Cohen was the 23rd overall pick in the second round of the 1961 NBA Draft by the Chicago Packers.
Thornton is the first NBA Draft pick from the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) since Charles Jenkins was the 44th pick of the Golden State Warriors in 2011.
“Marcus has got ability. He’s got quickness, and he’s very good with the ball. He’s not afraid of anybody. He operates very well in the open court and he’ll defend. I like him very much,” ESPN NBA Draft analyst Jay Bilas said of Thornton in a media call earlier in the week. “What a guy that when he plays he’s pure of heart, if that makes sense. I really enjoyed watching him play. After I watched him I was kind of kicking myself going why haven’t I been watching this guy more? He’s a joy to watch.”
Thornton graduated as W&M’s all-time leading scorer, finishing his career with 2,178 points, which ranks seventh in CAA history. As a senior in 2014-15, the Upper Marlboro, Md., native was namedAssociated Press honorable mention All-American, garnered the first CAA Player of the Year honor in program history and was selected as the Virginia State Player of the Year.
Thornton was the first Tribe player since 2004 to average 20 points per game, while knocking down a school-record 102 3-pointers, the sixth 100-plus 3-point field goal season in CAA history. He ranked 17th nationally in scoring and 16th in 3-pointers made.
Along with being W&M’s career scoring leader, Thornton established school marks for 3-pointers made (325), games played (127), minutes played (4,328), minutes per game (34.1) and 3-pointers per game (2.55).
He is one of only five players in program history with 1,000 career points and 300 career assists. Thornton became the only W&M player in program history to be named First Team NABC All-District on three occasions.
A three-time All-CAA choice, he was a first-team selection each of the last two years. Also during 2014-15, Thornton was named a finalist for the Lou Henson Mid-Major Player of the Year award and the Jerry West Division I Shooting Guard of the Year, presented by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Thornton led the Tribe to back-to-back 20-win seasons in the final two years of his career, a first at W&M since 1951. He also captained W&M to back-to-back CAA Championship Game appearances in 2014 and 2015.
The Tribe won the program’s first CAA regular season title in 17 years, was the No. 1 seed in the CAA Tournament for the first time in program history and played in the National Invitation Tournament for the third time during Thornton’s senior campaign. During the team’s awards banquet in April, it was announced the Thornton’s No. 3 jersey will be retired at a ceremony sometime in the future.
After wrapping up his stellar career at W&M, Thornton earned an invitation to the NBA Draft Combine where he excelled.
According to the website, Draft Express, Thornton was the top performer overall in the speed and agility tests at the Combine He ranked among the top four in four of the five athletic testing stations, including the best three-quarter court sprint (3.02 seconds) at the Combine Thornton had the second-best max vertical leap at 43 inches and the third-best standing vertical leap at 34.5 inches. His shuttle run time of 2.88 seconds was fourth at the Combine.
Thornton worked out for 12 NBA teams following the Combine, including the Boston Celtics, who worked out the Tribe standout on two occasions.