A few weeks ago, Henry Abbott of ESPN's TrueHoop asked his readers if they had ever met any of the prospective NBA players vying for a spot in tomorrow night's NBA Draft. Henry posted many of the submissions earlier this week. Unfortunately, because I missed reading TrueHoop the day Henry asked for submissions, I was unable to send him my story. Therefore, I've decided to write about the day I met Al Thornton here.
Sometime during the Spring of 2004, I had the pleasure of chatting with Al Thornton. Thornton had just begun his career at FSU and I was beginning my first semester of grad school. As a fan of Seminole basketball, I had gone to quite a few games and could pretty easily identify many of our higher profile players such as Tim Pickett or 6'10 Alexander Johnson. One day however, as I was waiting for the campus shuttle to take me to class, I saw someone who I thought I recognized from the previous night's game.
After awkwardly asking if he was indeed Al Thornton, Al and I talked hoops as we waited for the shuttle bus. I remember congratulating him on his recent games and asking him why he chose FSU. He told me his deciding factor was Coach Leonard Hamilton's honesty and openness. Then I asked him where else he considered and he told me Louisville, Cincinnati, and (if I remember right) Kentucky. We talked hoops for a few more minutes before the bus came, and even though our conversation ended, needless to say, I was impressed. Although there wasn't much to the Al Thornton basketball legend then, his willingness to small talk made me a fan. You hear too often about student-athletes who think they are better than their fellow students because of their athletic status, but Al Thornton wasn't one of them, at least to me.
By this time tomorrow night, Al Thornton will have been drafted by an NBA team. Many pundits have him being selected 12th by the Philadelphia 76'ers. Although I'd really like to see him in a Knicks uniform for my own personal fan reasons, whatever team he lands on, I'm glad he's made it.
For more on Al Thornton, check out this Boston Globe article.
For more on the few Seminoles who have been drafted by NBA teams, check out Orlando Sentinel writer Emily Badger's list of recent FSU basketball standouts. According to Badger, Thornton has a chance of being the highest former Seminole draft pick since George McCloud was picked seventh in 1989.
Before I go, here is a stat that I am having trouble believing: According to the Official FSU basketball homepage,
With Al Thornton's selection in the 2007 NBA Draft, Florida State will become one of only two schools in the ACC with at least one selection in each of the last four NBA Drafts. Tim Pickett (44th overall, 2nd round by New Orleans), Von Wafer (39th overall, 2nd Round by Los Angeles), Alexander Johnson (43rd Overall, 2nd Round by Indiana) were all drafted in the last three seasons. Florida State and Duke are the only two ACC schools to have had at least one player chosen in each of the last four NBA Drafts.
Not North Carolina, Maryland, or NC State? Only FSU and Duke? Wow.