Sindarius Thornwell may be in the running for the SEC’s player of the year honors (and by all accounts, after his monster performance the other day, should stand as a favorite to win it), but he’s up for a much higher award as well. The Atlanta Tipoff Club unveiled its 30 finalists for the Naismith Trophy, awarded to college basketball’s player of the year, and the South Carolina senior has made the cut.
Thornwell’s presence on the list is no surprise. He ranks a point and a half behind Kentucky’s Malik Monk for the SEC scoring lead and sits in second in league play with 7.7 rebounds a game. His PPG output is ranked 27th nationally, while his 2.33 steals per game is 11th in Division 1 and atop the SEC rankings. Two other SEC players made the Top 30 list: Monk and Wildcats teammate De’Aaron Fox.
There’s no doubt that Thornwell’s presence in the South Carolina lineup has proven invaluable to the Gamecocks as they seek their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2004. If he continues to play the way he is right now, and if the team’s able to get help from other guys like PJ Dozier, Duane Notice and Chris Silva, then they’ll be a tough out in the Big Dance next month.