Winthrop assistant men’s basketball coach Brian Thornton has taken a similar job at Ball State University, according to a May 9 press release from the Indiana-based school.
Thornton coached under Pat Kelsey the last two years, helping the Eagles to a 20-13 record this season, after going 14-17 in 2012-13. Thornton coached with a fellow Xavier University alum in Kelsey, and now will coach under James Whitford, who was an assistant coach when he played at Xavier from 2004 to 2006.
“I am thrilled to be adding Brian Thornton to our staff,” said Whitford, who was named Ball State’s head coach in April 2013. “I had the great privilege of coaching Brian at Xavier, where he was a terrific player and a great student. He brings (the) experience (of) a college player, a professional player and someone who has had success in the business world. He has worked under two coaches I greatly respect in Chris Mack and Pat Kelsey, both of whom really raved about Brian’s time with them. His experience as a post player will provide our big guys with a unique advantage.”
Ball State gets a coach in Thornton who excels at working with post players and also boasts a strong academic background. Thornton graduated cum laude from Xavier, and later earned an MBA from the school. The Louisville, Ky., native also became the Xavier basketball program’s first Academic All-American.
“I am excited about working with coach Whitford,” Thornton said. “I know the way he runs things and the ‘do what we do’ philosophy that exists at places like Arizona, Xavier and Ball State. Ball State is obviously a place that has had a history of success, and that is intriguing. The school is in a state that has maybe the best basketball in the country, so there are plenty of kids who are available and interested in being Ball State Cardinals.”
Thornton’s college career began at Vanderbilt under coach Kevin Stallings. He transferred to Xavier after two years, and finished with more than 1,700 career points and was named an All-Atlantic 10 selection his senior year.
Before arriving at Winthrop, Thornton spent two years as the director of basketball operations at Xavier under head coach Chris Mack and one year as an assistant coach at Furman. He was on the staff for Xavier’s run to the Sweet 16 of the 2010 NCAA tournament.