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Andy Wittry | | September 1, 2020

Basketball greats grieve the loss of John Thompson, barrier-breaking coach and mentor

Georgetown coach John Thompson dies at age 78

Legendary former Georgetown men's basketball coach John Thompson passed away at the age of 78 and on Monday he was remembered by former players and his former program as a mentor, a teacher, a trailblazer and so much more.

Thompson coached Georgetown for 27 years, starting in the 1972-73 season, and he finished his career with 596 wins, a .714 winning percentage, the 1984 national championship and two other Final Four appearances. He was the first Black coach to win the NCAA DI men’s basketball championship. The list of notable players he coached includes Allen Iverson, Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning. 

Here's some of the reaction to Thompson's passing from the basketball world, including some of his former players:

Georgetown men's basketball program

Allen Iverson

Iverson played at Georgetown under Thompson for two seasons, immediately stepping in and becoming the Hoyas' leading scorer at more than 20 points per game as a freshman, even as he played alongside three upperclassmen who later played in the NBA. Iverson, who was listed at just 6 feet,  was fourth on the team in rebounds per game and he was a pesky defender, who averaged more than three steals per game for his career.

As a sophomore, Iverson averaged 25 points per game, while leading Georgetown to 29 wins and a first-place finish in the Big East 7 division of the conference.

Dikembe Mutombo

Known for his defensive prowess and intimidating presence at the rim, the 7-2 Mutombo was an immediate-impact defender who developed as a scorer under Thompson.

Chris Wright

A highly touted prospect out of Maryland, Chris Wright played for Thompson's son, John Thompson III. He played for four seasons at Georgetown, which were highlighted by his junior season in which he averaged a career-best 15.2 points per game.

Providence men's basketball program

St. John's men's basketball program

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim

Kennesaw State men's basketball coach Amir Abdur-Rahim

Tulsa athletic director Dr. Derrick Gragg

AAU Chairman of Boys Basketball Boo Williams

Coaches honor John Thompson with white towels on their shoulders

After legendary Georgetown men's basketball coach John Thompson Jr. passed away in August 2020, numerous college basketball coaches honored his legacy by donning his iconic look of a towel over the shoulder.

John Thompson made his program a champion and his players something more

Mike Lopresti reflects on the life and legacy of former Georgetown head coach John Thompson, who died at the age of 78 on Sunday, Aug. 30.

Coaching great John Thompson of Georgetown dead at 78

Legendary Georgetown coach John Thompson has passed away at the age of 78.

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