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2017 NBA Draft Prospect Preview: Sindarius Thornwell has all the tools and may sit available for Pelicans

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He’s surprisingly an underrated two-way wing player by several major outlets and may fall well into the second round.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-South Carolina vs Gonzaga Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

I love guys like Sindarius Thornwell and I really hope he’s on the New Orleans Pelicans radar because he may still sit on the board when the 40th overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft rolls around.

Thornwell’s game seems so dependable... I just wish he could play against good college competition for the next 5 years of his career. But alas, he’ll need to accept a newer, narrower role on any NBA squad and hope he can use his mind, acceptance of contact and court awareness where his quickness, height and speed might fail him.

Oh, and with any new Pels player: he’s gotta make catch-and-shoot 3s, duh.

A four-year star at South Carolina, Thornwell measures up well at about 6’-5’’ with a 6’-10’’ wingspan and a solid 214 pounds. He made his name as the 2016-17 SEC Player of the Year and two-time All-SEC Defensive first team member. Thornwell averaged 21 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals per game, shooting 47/39/83 from FG/3FG/FT.

In a 4OT(!) loss to a bad Alabama team, Thornwell went off for 44 points (25(!!!)-of-33(!!!!!!) from the free throw line) and 21 rebounds — numbers that are just not seen in college basketball. Incidentally, he is regarded rather highly by several statistical measures.

Despite this, he was left off the DraftExpress.com mock draft board until THIS PAST MARCH. Chad Ford has him currently ranked 59th on his big board. Thankfully, he’s being mentioned by some internet and twitter dot com experts as going in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, but as you can see it’s not the greatest consensus. This might come as a surprise when considering Thornwell’s senior year at Oak Hill Academy, the premier NBA player factory.

If you’re looking for a heady, versatile defender with good court awareness and body control, you’ve found an option. Thornwell’s free throw and rebound rates pop off the page, especially in his senior year when he really went into overdrive to take a 7-seeded Gamecocks to the Final Four, the team’s first ever trip.

This is what I like: rebounding in college tends to transfer to the NBA, and even if he’s not super quick, Thornwell’s body control and adept ball-handling can let him get to spots, although pick-and-roll opportunities will come randomly and rarely as an NBA rookie wing. Although he might not have incredible measurables, Thornwell has been a leader and competitive as hell; he might take your head off fighting for a rebound or loose ball.

Just look at the teams South Carolina beat on their way to the Final Four and examine all the McDonald’s All Americans, college All Americans and NBA hopefuls along the way… that’s Marquette, Duke, Baylor, Florida and Gonzaga.

Thornwell muscled his way past all of them.

Of note is one off-the-court legal problem that led to a six game suspension from South Carolina: Thornwell was arrested for driving with a suspended license and possession of marijuana in May 2016, which wasn’t revealed until this past December. Guys screw up and hey, it’s just weed, so I don’t want to disrespect his name, but it is worth remembering.

For more on Thornwell, and fellow NBA Draft prospect PJ Dozier, take a look at TheGarnetAndBlackAttack.com, the SB Nation site for all things Gamecocks.