Two years ago, Kansas coach Bill Self landed graduate transfer Tarik Black during the spring recruiting period, a late coup for a program in need of a veteran big man.
Now Self may be in on another graduate transfer big man.
Self visited Charlotte center Mike Thorne, Jr. earlier this week, according to Thorne’s high school coach, Heath Vandevender. Thorne announced his decision to leave Charlotte earlier this month.
Thorne, who is listed at 6 feet 11 and 270 pounds, averaged 10.1 points and 7.3 rebounds while playing 26.1 minutes per game for a Charlotte program that finished 14-18 and 7-11 in Conference USA. Vandevender said Thorne, who will graduate in May, had heard from more than 40 schools, including K-State and Missouri.
Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon also visited Thorne this week and Virginia Tech and Marquette had scheduled visits for early next week. Thorne took a redshirt season in his first year at Charlotte and spent four years in the program. He is expected to graduate on May 9 and be eligible immediately under the NCAA’s graduate-transfer waiver.
Kansas could be a potential fit. Vandevender, who coached Thorne at Trinity Christian Academy in Fayetteville, said Thorne wanted to finish his career at a school that played through its big guys and prepared its frontcourt players for a professional career, whether in the NBA or Europe.
“He wants to go to a school where he can be the primary five, because he only has one year left,” Vandevender said. “He also wants to go to a school that has a history of getting bigs to the pro level.”
The KU staff likely will be zeroing in on multiple targets in the frontcourt during the spring. Freshman forward Cliff Alexander could be on the way out after an NCAA investigation derailed his first season at Kansas. Junior forward Perry Ellis likely will monitor his NBA stock in the coming weeks.
Here are some highlights of Thorne playing against Miami in November. Thorne finished with 17 points in a 77-74 loss:
According to advanced metrics, Thorne profiles as an above-average rebounder with limited rim-protection ability. He led the 49ers in defensive rebounding percentage (20.8) which ranked 129th in the country and would have been better than any player on the Kansas roster.
Thorne, according to Vandevender, will likely take a couple visits to schools before making a decision in the coming weeks.