Thornton's family has military ties

BY foxsports • November 8, 2011

Austin Thornton is suddenly quite grateful he redshirted his freshman year at Michigan State.

Now he has one more season of eligibility left - and a chance to take part in what is surely the most unique game of the upcoming college basketball season.

The Spartans face top-ranked North Carolina on Friday in the Carrier Classic - on the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier. The carrier will be at its berth at North Island Naval Air Station in the San Diego area. President Barack Obama is expected to attend the game.

''I'm glad I redshirted,'' Thornton said. ''It's just great, the whole experience. It's truly an honor, and it's truly special to be a part of.''

Thornton's older brother Thomas, a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps, is expected to be there. He's been stationed at Camp Pendleton recently.

The USS Carl Vinson is the aircraft carrier from which Osama bin Laden was buried at sea.

''I hope it's a little red `X' where they threw him off at, so I can see it,'' Michigan State's Draymond Green said.

Both teams will wear camouflage uniforms for the Veterans Day game.

''Excitement - I don't know how much of an understatement that is,'' Thornton said. ''The whole experience is pretty special, and the way it's kind of turned out. The entire venue as a whole - it's just going to be great.''

It's enough to make Michigan State's second game of the season - at Madison Square Garden against Duke - seem tame by comparison.

The court, surrounded by temporary stadium-style seating, will be located between the superstructure and the forward catapults. In case of rain, the game will be moved below to the hangar deck.

It's bringing back some interesting memories for players who aren't used to playing big games outdoors anymore.

''I never play outside anymore,'' Green said. ''You start taking a hit on your knees playing on concrete, but I used to play a lot as a kid.''

When Green found out about the game, he needed to do some research to find out what the scene would look like.

''I was just researching aircraft carriers and seeing what they looked like and what they were really meant to do,'' Green said. ''Once I first saw it, I didn't know how they were going to pull it off, and then they started showing me little diagrams of it, how they were going to set it up. It was pretty neat.''

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