When Georgetown fired John Thompson III yesterday, it was a bit of a surprise. Not because Thompson’s performance has been amazing, but because with the exception of a five year stretch from 1999-2004, that job had been a literal family affair since 1972.
John Thompson Jr. was coach from 1972 through 1999, and his son John Thompson III took the reins from 2004 through his firing. There’s not going to be a transition to another Thompson, of course, but there might be a path to keeping the job within the Georgetown family, by turning the program over to one of the best players in Georgetown history.
Woj is reporting (of course he is) that the Hoyas will consider Patrick Ewing for the opening:
Georgetown officials plan to consider the head-coaching candidacy of the university’s most legendary basketball alumnus, Patrick Ewing, sources told The Vertical.
Ewing, the associate head coach of the Charlotte Hornets, has been an NBA assistant coach for 15 seasons and has increasingly become a viable NBA head-coaching candidate.
Even a legendary figure like Ewing would pose a few issues at Georgetown, which tends to be the case when a legendary coach still holds a lot of sway at any particular school:
For Georgetown, Ewing’s candidacy could represent the most opportunistic scenario to keep the school’s coaching job in the Hoyas’ family. Since John Thompson’s hiring in 1972, the program has had only three coaches – Thompson, Craig Esherick and John Thompson III.
The elder Thompson holds tremendous influence over the athletic department, and most believe that it will be hard to succeed at Georgetown without the Hall of Fame coach’s support. Whether Thompson would support Ewing – or any candidate to replace his son is unclear – but most connected to Ewing doubt that Thompson would ever sabotage Ewing, who considers Thompson to be a second father.
Ewing’s son, Patrick Ewing Jr., was a member of the younger Thompson’s staff, and could in theory stay on to work for and with his father as well. That’s quite a family dynamic at Georgetown, both literal and figurative.
Patrick Ewing Jr. played for a bit at Indiana, another school where a legendary coach still wields influence, even in absentia. Indiana is apparently leaning towards bringing in UCLA’s Steve Alford, an Indiana grad. It’s a move seemingly aimed at appeasing the school’s base of Bob Knight supporters.
Doug Gottlieb (himself in contention for the head coaching position at his alma mater of Oklahoma State) told Dan Patrick he’s heard Alford to Indiana is a done deal:
It’s fascinating to watch multiple schools reach back to their past in efforts to shape their futures. Whether or not that’s the correct strategy remains to be seen.