Note: The following appears in the Boston College gameday football program.
Looking to build off its successful 2018-19 campaign, the women’s basketball team enters the 2019-20 season with plenty of promise, and senior leader Kobi Thornton is a primary reason why. Having served as a key cog for the Tigers since arriving on campus in 2016, Thornton is set to embark on the final leg of a Clemson journey that has been a dream come true for her.
“It’s been everything I wanted it to be in terms of growing and maturing, on and off the court,” said Thornton of her Clemson basketball tenure. “It’s been a fun process.”
The Tigers earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 17 years last season, with Head Coach Amanda Butler and her staff wasting no time in instilling a winning culture in her first year on the job. Thornton, a 6’2” forward, was instrumental to Clemson’s success over the course of the season, which saw the Tigers tally a 9-7 record in ACC play and a 20-13 overall mark.
Thornton earned Second-Team All-ACC honors and led the team in scoring (14.1) and rebounding (7.2) in a season that marked the beginning of a new era for the program.
“I actually got chills thinking about last season and how I was one of the players who was a part of that turnaround,” said the Shellman, Ga. native with a smile. “As a team, we jelled and developed great chemistry.”
In fact, Thornton’s self-proclaimed favorite memory from her Tiger career thus far was hearing Clemson’s name called during the NCAA Tournament selection show in March. That special moment signified a major milestone that Thornton hoped to reach when she originally committed to play for the Tigers while taking part in a decorated prep career at Randolph-Clay High School.
Since then, Thornton has continuously served as a valuable performer and teammate, and she credited Butler and the rest of the coaching staff for taking her game to the next level.
“I love all of them. They’ve helped me grow in so many ways, and they’re great people to be around.”
Following her superb junior season, which was highlighted by Clemson winning its first-round game in the NCAA Tournament and thereby becoming one of the last 32 teams left standing.
Thornton was invited to participate in the United States trials for the 2019 Pan American Games. She had the opportunity to hone her skills by competing against other elite players from around the globe. Thornton aims to use that experience to bolster her role as a veteran leader during her senior campaign.
“Going into my last year, I’ve set the bar so high for my teammates and me because I know how great we can be.”
Aspirations of playing professional basketball, either in the WNBA or overseas, serve as fuel for Thornton’s fire on the hardwood. But for now, she is solely focused on being the best she can be in the fourth and final year of her college career.
Last season, Thornton became one of only 15 players in program history to eclipse 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds, but Thornton is still not satisfied, as she is eager to leave behind a winning legacy when her Tiger tenure is complete.
Aside from shooting hoops, Thornton’s favorite pastime is going to the movies, which she frequently does with her teammates. She wants her senior season to be as memorable and surreal as her favorite basketball-themed films, as she is going for glory en route to putting the finishing touches on her starring role in 2019-20.
“I’m hoping for another NCAA Tournament run. I want my senior year to be something to remember.”