Georgetown’s backcourt thinned out last Thursday night when sophomore guard Josh Thornton announced his departure from the team. Last night, he clarified his intentions to transfer.

“Georgetown is an excellent institution,” Thornton said Monday night. “It has nothing do with the school. It’s in my best interest to find the best opportunity to go elsewhere.”

“Josh has made a decision to leave for personal reasons,” Head Coach John Thompson III said Thursday in a Georgetown athletic department press release. “We respect his decision, appreciate the contributions he made while he was here and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Thornton, a Rochester, N.Y. native, appeared in six games for the Hoyas, averaging 1.7 points and .5 rebounds in 3.3 minutes of action. In a Dec. 11 defeat of Fairfield, Thornton scored a career-high seven points in just six minutes of play. His last game appearance was on Feb. 9 in Georgetown’s 64-41 win over St. John’s.

With junior Jonathan Wallace, a two-year starter, sophomore Jessie Sapp, who averaged 16 minutes per game last year and junior captain Tyler Crawford all returning to the Georgetown backcourt, and freshman Jeremiah Rivers joining it, it was unclear whether Thornton would receive playing time this season.

“Right now I’m looking for a place where I’m wanted and needed,” Thornton said. “[A place] where they need someone to help the team succeed right away.”

Asked on media day whether Thornton could expect to play this year, Thompson replied, “I think that you look at all of our guys and say everyone’s got a shot . We need to just go through and piece it together and figure out who’s it going to be and Josh is one of those guys.”

Thornton’s departure also comes on the heels of several verbal commitments from recruits. Washington, D.C., standouts Chris Wright, a high school senior, and junior Jason Clark, as well as senior Tennessee-native Omar Wattad, all perimeter players, made verbal commitments to the Hoyas in the last couple weeks. DeMatha Catholic High School senior guard Austin Freeman has also given a verbal commitment to Georgetown, as has teammate Chris Braswell, who is a forward.

Still, Thornton said that his departure has little to do with the incoming talent.

“There is competition wherever you go,” he said. “There will always be people coming in. There’s competition everywhere. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t like it. You can’t run away from it.”

Thornton added that there was no pressure from teammates, coaches or administrators to transfer. “It’s a completely personal decision. There was nothing from coaches or players,” he said. “There was nothing about not getting along with coaches, nothing about not getting along with players.”

Thornton said he will remain a student on the Hilltop for the rest of the semester as he investigates possible transfer opportunities. Under NCAA rules, a transfer student must be enrolled at his new school for two semesters before he can appear in a game.

Thornton’s decision does not come without some heartache, speaking highly of Thompson and of his teammates.

“We have fun here all the time,” he said. “That’s the hardest thing. This team, my friends, we are all so close.”

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