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Ball State head coach James Whitford adds Brian Thornton to coaching staff

Butler Ball St Basketball

Ball State coach James Whitford, left, gives instructions during an NCAA college basketball game against Butler on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in Muncie, Ind. Butler won 59-58. (AP Photo/The Star Press, Patti Blake)


With Brett nelson and Billy Wright moving on at the end of the season, Ball State head coach James Whitford had two openings on his coaching staff to fill this spring. Friday afternoon the school announced that one of those positions has been filled, with Brian Thornton making the move from Winthrop to Ball State.

Thornton, who played at both Vanderbilt and Xavier, has been an assistant at both Winthrop and Furman and served as director of basketball operations at Xavier under Chris Mack. He joins Jason Grunkemeyer, the lone holdover from last season, on the Ball State coaching staff.

“I am excited about working with Coach Whitford,” Thornton said in the release. “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.”

In Whitford’s first season at the helm the Cardinals finished with a record of 5-25 (2-16 MAC), and they’ll have to account for the loss of three of their top four scorers. The most productive returnee is guard Zavier Turner, who averaged 12.1 points and 3.7 assists per game. Ball State adds six newcomers to the program, and Cincinnati transfer Jeremiah Davis III will be eligible after sitting out the 2013-14 campaign.

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