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Brian Thornton
Position: Assistant Coach
Alma Mater: Xavier
Graduating Year: 2005
Experience: 1st Year
Phone: 765.285.2892
Thornton Videos
Brian Thornton Bio
Courtesy: Ball State Athletics
Release: 05/12/2014

Brian Thornton, a former Academic All-American at Xavier, completed his second season as an assistant coach with the Ball State men’s basketball program in 2015-16.

He helped the Cardinals to the fourth-largest turnaround in the nation, culminating with a quarterfinal appearance in the CIT in Ball State’s return to the postseason for the first time in 14 years. Ball State finished 21-14 and claimed a share of the Mid-American Conference West Division championship at 10-8 in league play.

Thornton joined the Ball State men's basketball staff as an assistant coach in May 2014. He works directly with the Cardinals’ post players.

In 2015-16, he helped forward Franko House to All-MAC Second Team and MAC All-Defensive Team honors. House and fellow post player Bo Calhoun have made tremendous strides under Thornton’s guidance. In 2014-15, Calhoun ranked as the second-most improved offensive player in the MAC in terms of league scoring average from one season to the next.

Before coming to Ball State, Thornton coached with Winthrop for two years under head coach Pat Kelsey. He helped the Eagles to a 20-13 record in 2013-14, marking the program's first 20-win campaign in six years. Winthrop tied for second in the South Division of the Big South Conference and advanced to the championship game of the league tournament before falling to Coastal Carolina.

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.

"I am thrilled to be adding Brian Thornton to our staff," Ball State head coach James Whitford said. "I had the great privilege of coaching Brian at Xavier, where he was a terrific player and a great student. He brings experience 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."

Thornton played his first two years of college basketball for coach Kevin Stallings at Vanderbilt (2001-03) and his final two for coach Sean Miller at Xavier (2004-06). Whitford was an assistant on the Musketeers' staff for his final college season.

Thornton was a Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team selection in his rookie year at Vanderbilt. He went on to score 1,175 points for his career, surpassing the 500-point mark at both Vanderbilt and Xavier. By his senior year with the Musketeers, he was a first-team All-Atlantic 10 Conference selection and an all-district pick by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

"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 ranked among the top 10 in the nation in shooting percentage (.640) as a senior in 2005-06 while leading the Musketeers with 15.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. He became the first men's basketball player in Xavier history to earn Academic All-America honors.

The Louisville, Ky., native went on to play professionally in Germany before returning to Xavier as a volunteer coach while completing work on his MBA. He graduated cum laude from Xavier with a bachelor's degree in liberal arts in 2005 and also earned his MBA from Xavier in 2007.

Thornton and his wife Kelsey have one daughter, Makayla, who was born in November 2014.

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