Like most former basketball players, Dwight Thorne II always believes he still has a little game left in the tank.
In that spirit, Thorne was enthusiastic about the opportunity to reconnect with a few of his former teammates last year for The Basketball Tournament, a swiftly-growing competition that featured a $1 million winning jackpot a year ago which has doubled this year.
However, the former Colorado guard quickly learned his detour toward a career in coaching probably was a prudent move. On Friday, the University of Denver officially announced Thorne's hiring as the program's Director of Operations under former Colorado assistant Rodney Billups. But first Thorne will continue to cut his teeth in coaching by leading a roster full of former teammates at The Basketball Tournament.
"I played last year but I wasn't in the best shape I could be," Thorne said. "I didn't give as much as I could give. This year I said, 'You know what? I'll coach them.' I'm more suited for that."
Following Thorne's senior season of 2009-10 he spent four years at the pro level internationally, making stops in Croatia, Greece, and Italy. During the 2015-16 season Throne worked as a graduate assistant at Georgia Tech, playing a part in a 21-15 season that ended in the quarterfinals of the NIT.
The increased organization surrounding Team Colorado's entry in The Basketball Tournament this year allows Throne an opportunity to expand his coaching experience...even if it's while drawing up plays and choosing a starting lineup among a group of guys he lived with in the not too distant past.
"How this will help in my coaching career is that coaching guys that know you, who joke around with you and know who you are, it's a little different," Thorne said. "I've always been told to be yourself. These guys know me and respect me. I'm going to demand that they understand what we're trying to do, but it helps that we're all on the same page. We don't have guys on different agendas.
"There's two million dollars at the end of the line. If we can get it, we get it. And if not, we forge better bonds."
Thorne averaged 6.4 points over his four-year CU career, scoring a career-best 12 points per game while starting all 31 contests as a junior in 2008-09. While his duties at DU will lean more toward the administrative needs of the program, Thorne believes these few weeks leading his former mates will be a boon to his long-term coaching aspirations.
"Last year we didn't get to practice (for TBT) together, so when we showed up it really was like a big pickup game," Thorne said. "I figure if we have these guys into the gym and learn a few things, it will put us a lot further ahead than last year. That's been our goal this year to set ourselves up for success."