Legendary Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson, the first Black head coach to ever win an NCAA national title, died Monday morning. Thompson’s family announced his death via a statement that was released by Georgetown’s athletic program on Twitter.
A statement released on behalf of the Thompson Family pic.twitter.com/2se2NycV4P
— Georgetown Hoyas (@GeorgetownHoyas) August 31, 2020
One of the most influential coaches in college basketball history, the trailblazing John Thompson helped put Georgetown basketball on the map when he first started coaching there in 1972.
Prior to his coaching career though, Thompson was also a standout player during his collegiate career at Providence where he played until 1964. Thompson would help lead Providence to an NIT tournament championship in 1963 and would be drafted into the NBA in 1964.
Thompson only played two NBA seasons though and served as the backup center to Hall of Famer Bill Russell. Thompson and the Celtics would win the title in both of his professional seasons. Thompson became a high school coach in 1966 but then moved on to Georgetown University in 1972.
At Georgetown is where Thompson did his most impactful work, helping lead the Hoyas to the NCAA tournament on 20 different occasions in his 27 seasons at the helm. Georgetown became a powerhouse quickly in the 1980s, making the Final Four in 1982 and winning the entire tournament two years later. Georgetown would appear back in the championship game the season after as well though they would lose to Villanova.
Not only was Thompson a tremendous college basketball coach, but he led a number of superstar NBA players including Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo, Allen Iverson and Alonzo Mourning among others. Thompson’s son, John Thompson III would take over at Georgetown in 2004 but parted ways with the university in 2017.