The first conversation Bryce Thurston had with Mount St. Mary’s coach Jamion Christian was a memorable one. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound shooting guard hadn’t made much of an impact for Mount St. Joseph’s varsity, but his play on the AAU circuit with Maryland 3D was more than enough to pique Christian’s interest.
“He said, ‘I’d love to have you. You’re our guy. You fit our system,’” Thurston recalled. “That’s what you want to hear from a coach when he calls you. A lot of times an assistant coach calls you. But when the head coach calls you, that’s how [you know you’re wanted and] I felt really comfortable making my decision.”
Thurston, who’s spending his senior year at Montverde (Fla.) Academy, committed to the Mountaineers over the weekend. He was also recruited by Hartford, Loyola, Quinnipiac and Radford.
“[I'm feeling] a lot of support right now. I’m really thankful for that,” said Thurston, a Catonsville native. “My parents are very happy. My girlfriend is happy. My brothers are proud of me. I worked really hard. My goal was achieved.”
Thurston is a double-digit scorer at Montverde, where he’s been starting at the 2 so far this season. At Mount St. Joseph, however, he was more of a practice player, biding his time behind Phil Booth (Villanova), Kam Williams (Ohio State) and Jordan McNeil (Towson), among others. It was Thurston’s job last season to simulate the Gaels’ opponents and battle each day with Booth and McNeil.
“It was good. I learned a lot from Coach [Pat] Clatchey over the years. The stuff that he taught me really contributed to my success and growth as a player,” Thurston said. “It definitely prepared me, for sure. I was in there working hard every day with those guys. They really helped improve my game and my defense.”
With Maryland 3D in the spring and summer, Thurston was able to put those lessons to practice. In 3D’s up-tempo offense, Thurston flourished offensively and defensively. On a team with three other Division I commitments – Calvert Hall’s Drew Edwards (Providence), Calvert Hall’s Evan Phoenix (Central Connecticut State), McDonogh’s Evan Fisher (Siena) – Thurston stood out thanks to his outside shooting.
“I had a great summer shooting the ball. That’s what Coach Christian loves about me,” Thurston said. “We play together, we move the ball. That’s what’s so great about Maryland 3D. We forget about the drama and we just play together as one.”
At Montverde, Thurston’s been building on his AAU experience thanks in large part to his new head coach, former North Carolina wing Dante Calabria. It’s been an ideal situation in preparing Thurston for his college career in Emmittsburg.
“I didn’t know much about the school at first, but once I started to look into it and do some research on it, I knew I could really fit in,” Thurston said. “I’m looking forward to getting to the Mount and developing some chemistry. They way the Mount plays can really help take my game to another level.”