Nearly every drill at Sindarius Thornwell basketball camp includes a running clock and a buzzer. That’s by design. The camp’s namesake wouldn’t have it any other way.
The former South Carolina star turned Los Angeles Clipper was hanging with the kids Saturday morning at Cardinal Newman High School. Thornwell’s youth camp, which comes with stops in Spartanburg, Columbia and his hometown of Lancaster, is into its second year. Its main theme is reflective of the 2017 SEC Player of the Year.
“We focused on competing in every drill,” Thornwell said, “whether that’s sprints, passing. Whatever we were doing, we were focusing on trying to win. You want to be the best.”
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Thornwell won 72 percent of his final 71 games in a USC uniform, including four in March 2017 that took the Gamecocks to the their first Final Four.
But Thornwell on Saturday, mixing it up with first to 12th graders, was just using basketball as a way to teach lessons beyond the court.
“If you practice being the fastest person or you get the most rebounds, stuff like that, that can translate over to business,” he said. “You and another guy’s competing for a business opportunity, and you just have that competing edge about yourself. That’s where basketball and real life comes together.”
Thornwell appeared in 73 games as an NBA rookie. He averaged 3.9 points, 1.9 rebounds and made 17 starts. Saturday’s Midlands appearance was just of several he’s made since LA’s season ended in April. Thornwell came back for a charity game at Gray Collegiate in June and the SC Pro-Am at Heathwood in July.
“I just hope when these kids get in the position I’m in, a position to give back and help, they’ll do the same,” Thornwell said. “They’ll come back to their communities, they’ll come back to South Carolina and help out with the kids that’s coming up after them.”
Sons of both Chuck Martin and Bruce Shingler were campers. The USC assistant coaches were in attendance Saturday. Frank Martin, though, got the shout-out.
Thornwell credited Carolina’s head coach for much of his rookie year success.
“His toughness, his mindest to not give up, his mindest to never quit,” Thornwell said. “His fight is in me. Whatever battle, how hard it is. you keep going.
“I hit that wall when I wasn’t playing. I was frustrated on why I wasn’t playing. I think that’s when it kicked in. That’s when being around Frank for four years helped me get through that phase and help me turn my year around.”