Bruce Thornton, a top-30 PG prospect in the 2022 class, commits to Ohio State

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
The Ohio State University athletic department logo, 2017. [provided by OSU]

As he watched his freshman point guard play, Allen Whiteheart saw some familiar potential.

Years earlier, Whiteheart had watched Shannon Scott star at Alpharetta (Georgia) Milton before going on to play at Ohio State. At the time, Whiteheart had coached against him. Now, a few years into being the head coach at Milton, Whiteheart felt there was a chance of history repeating itself.

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The player in question was Bruce Thornton, a member of the class of 2022. Whiteheart made a call to Scott, the former Buckeyes guard made a call to Ohio State assistant coach Jake Diebler, and this Thanksgiving it led to Thornton issuing his verbal commitment to the Buckeyes.

The 6-2, 195-pound Thornton picked the Buckeyes after announcing a final five that also included Alabama, Georgia, Indiana and Purdue.

“I just know where I want to be,” Thornton told The Dispatch. “There’s no point in prolonging it. In Ohio State, I know what I want. I believe they can make my dreams come true of going to the NBA.”

Thornton is a four-star recruit and the nation’s No. 26 overall player according to 247Sports.com. He is the third player to join Ohio State’s class of 2022, a group that includes Cincinnati Princeton shooting guard Bowen Hardman and Youngstown (New York) Lewiston-Porter senior guard/wing Roddy Gayle Jr. His commitment comes less than two weeks after Gayle's announcement.

Thornton has been a starter for Milton since his freshman year.

“Even before his recruitment started, I used to tell people his freshman year, ‘This is a Big Ten guard. He’s tough as nails. He makes winning plays. He’s just really, really good,’ ” Whiteheart said. “Shannon connected me with coach Diebler. I said I think Ohio State would be a great fit, and this was back in the early summer. Jake reached out and said they wanted to do their research and they started following and then Jake was like, ‘We’ve got to have this kid. He’s our top recruit.’ ”

The Buckeyes offered Thornton in early June. Since then, the lines of communication have been strong between Thornton, Diebler and head coach Chris Holtmann. That comfort level established with the two coaches was enough for Thornton to make his decision.

He’s never been to Ohio State and, aside from a relationship with Scott, has no connection to the program or university. Thornton has done a virtual tour, he said, and will visit campus as soon as is allowed. The NCAA has extended the recruiting dead period until April 15, 2021.

“They’ve been on me ever since they offered me and have been showing nothing but love,” he said. “Every day, it’s just been growing. I don’t look at coach Diebler as a coach most of the time because we talk about stuff off the court and stuff on the court. It’s a well-balanced relationship, so that helped me make my decision.”

From 2011-15, Scott played in 143 games including 57 starts and averaged 5.5 points per game while twice being named to the Big Ten’s all-defensive team. Thornton said Scott’s advice about joining the Buckeyes was simple: Be ready to work.

Whiteheart said that shouldn’t be an issue for Thornton.

“He’s a winner,” the coach said. “That’s the biggest thing about him. Whatever it takes to win, he’s gonna do it. If it’s to make the extra pass, dive on the floor for a loose ball, score it. Lock-down defender, he’s a pit bull and he’s a worker. He just busts his butt all the time.

“I think the thing that people in Columbus want to know is he’s just a high-level winner. You’re going to win a lot of games because of him.”

That’s a mantra Thornton said he created himself when he was younger.

“When you win, they remember you,” he said. “I’ve always had that mindset. It doesn’t matter how many points I have or whatever; if I win at the end of the day, they’re going to remember my name.”

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy