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Getting to know potential Gonzaga guard Derryck Thornton

The USC grad transfer point guard plans to be in Spokane next week to check out the Bulldogs.
Credit: USC Athletics, Hali Helfgott

This past weekend South Dakota State transfer David Jenkins announced that he was headed to UNLV to play for the Runnin' Rebels. 

Jenkins had visited Gonzaga, but with only one scholarship presumed left for the Bulldogs and a visit already scheduled to Spokane with graduate transfer point guard Derryck Thornton, the writing seemed a bit on the wall that Jenkins wasn't going to become a Zag.

So let's delve into the latest transfer being recruited by the Bulldogs. 


Out of high school, Thornton was one of the most sought after recruits in the country. 

He went to Duke and played a season there before transferring to USC. To boil down the issues at Duke: The people around Thornton and Duke's coaching staff clashed on how to best use him his freshman season, even though he played in all of the Blue Devils games and started 20 of them. 

After sitting out a year, Thornton played, well, just okay for the Trojans during the 2017-2018 season . He shot 36% from the field and didn't start. He also battled a shoulder injury that season.

This past year, he started 27 of 32 games for USC, but was benched in the Trojans' final five games of the season. He averaged 7.7 points and 4.3 assists last season, and shot 28.6% from the three point line, which isn't fantastic. 

Between the fact that USC has an incredible incoming recruiting class and the fact that he got benched, the writing was on the wall that Thornton was headed else where for his final season.


Out of high school Thornton was lauded as being a creator and a high-level athlete. Those are both things that are more intuitive than teachable, so those are definitely pluses. 

However, he also can be a bit out of control on the court at times. He averaged two turnovers per game last season and scouts have said that this is something he desperately needs to work on. 

Another thing he obviously needs to work on his shooting. I mentioned him shooting 28% from three last season, well he also shot 38% from the field and 66% from the free throw line. That is just not ideal. Period.


The first thing we need to address are the shooting numbers I just referenced. 

There is two bits of good news here:

  1. If Gonzaga can correct Brandon Clarke's shooting form, which was not pretty before he came to GU, they can definitely help Thornton.The only issue here is that Gonzaga doesn't have a whole year to do that like they did with Clarke.
  2. Gonzaga doesn't need their point guard score a ton. They want a creator at that position, which is where Thornton excels. They want someone who can get the ball to the scorers on the team. So his shooting issues may be, well, a non-issue.

However, part of being a creator is being able to take care of the ball, and Thornton will need to get that in check if he decides to be a Zag. Have you ever seen Mark Few's face after a silly turnover? Thornton doesn't want to see that.

Thornton also has some things to prove. Right now the former five-star guard's career hasn't gone as planned. Gonzaga is his last chance. He's going to be willing to do whatever it takes. That's a huge asset. 

To be honest, I'm not sure if Thornton is exactly Gonzaga's complete answer at point guard, but right now he's one of the best point guards on the market. He has the potential to be the team's answer, and Gonzaga is desperately looking for answers at the PG position right now. 

Thornton will visit campus May 28th-30th.