July 5, 2007

Clippers Sign Thornton

The Los Angeles Clippers today signed rookie forward Al Thornton, the team’s first round selection (14th overall) in the 2007 NBA Draft, announced Vice President of Basketball Operations Elgin Baylor.

A versatile scorer, the 6’8” forward averaged 19.7 points and 7.2 rebounds in his senior season with the Seminoles and was named a Third-Team All-American by The Associated Press as well as a Second-Team All-American by Rivals.com. Thornton, 23, averaged 23.5 points per game in ACC play as a senior and played in all 35 games for Florida State, shooting 53 percent from the field.

Thornton improved his scoring average every year at Florida State, leading the team with 16.1 points per game as a junior when he was named to the All-ACC Second Team and the All-District First Team after starting all 30 games.

The Perry, Georgia native played in 29 games for Florida State as a sophomore, finishing second on the team in scoring with a 9.1 points per game average. Thornton played in all 30 games for the Seminoles as a freshman.



Baylor
CLIPPERS VICE PRESIDENT OF BASKETBALL OPERATIONS ELGIN BAYLOR:
"Going into the draft, we wanted to get the best player we could get and a player we felt could come in and play right away. We liked Al (Thornton), but we never thought he’d be there at fourteen. We were unbelievably pleased he was still there. He’s the type of player coaches like. He’s a high energy player that plays hard on both ends of the floor.

"We know he’s going to be able to come in and play for us right away. We spent some time with him at the Pre-Draft Camp, and he’s a fine young man from a fine family. He’s going to be exciting and we’re just happy to have him."

On playing the top pick in the Summer League…
"The player wanted to play, we wanted him to play. He wants to play. He wants to work through the summer and get to know the players and the coaching staff."



Dunleavy
CLIPPERS HEAD COACH MIKE DUNLEAVY:
"As we entered the draft process, between studying films and seeing players in person, Al was the guy we hoped to get. There were a number of times during the draft process where you hear all kinds of stories about where different guys are going, and there was actually one scenario where he could get to us. As that started to unfold during the day it was very exciting in our draft room. We knew there were a couple of hurdles we’d have to cross, and as they got out of the way we had a jubilant group. We’re extremely pleased to have Al, I’m glad we got the contract signed and he’s going to be at practice tonight. We’re looking forward to having him in the summer league and starting the process of integrating him into the Clipper Family."

On Al Thornton’s effort on the court…
Al is an accomplished 3-point shooter at the college level. He shot over 43 percent, which is a good number. He’s got a good low post game as well but what drove me and my staff to him was how hard he plays. He gives a great effort at both ends. I met him in Orlando at the Pre-Draft camp and I told him we would take him if he was there at fourteen. When we selected him at fourteen I knew we would be able to put him in the best possible position to be successful.

On drafting a player with four years of collegiate experience…
"It doesn’t happen that much but its not how we pick them. Getting an opportunity to find a player who fits the bill was a great thing for us. I think he’ll be better prepared to handle certain situations in the NBA."



Thornton
CLIPPERS FORWARD AL THORNTON:
"It’s an honor to be a member of the Clippers. I’m very thankful and excited to be here. I can’t wait to get out there on the court and play. I’m really looking forward to it."

On playing four years in college…
"Staying in college was the plan for me. Some guys go to college for only one year and then they leave but for me I wanted to be more of a finished product. I talked with my family about coming out last year but I wanted to work on a few things with my game before I went pro and I’m glad it worked out the way it did."

On the parts of his game he wanted to work on while in college…
"I wanted to become more of a student of the game and recognize certain situations and how to better handle them when I got into the NBA."

On being a member of the Clippers…
"I didn’t know I was coming here but I’m glad I was available to the Clippers because they are a veteran group, a playoff team, and I feel I can come in here and help them right away."

On being drafted…
"I was very excited. Fourteen is a very high pick. I didn’t have any idea as to where I was going but to be drafted was very exciting for me and my family."