PC Mourns Loss of Former Friar & Legendary Georgetown Coach John Thompson
Providence College Press Release
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Former Friar men’s basketball player and legendary Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson ’64 has passed away. Thompson, who along with Lenny Wilkens ’60, is one of two former Friar players in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as he was enshrined in 1999.
“Coach Thompson was a pioneer whose impact extended far beyond basketball,” Friar Head Coach Ed Cooley said. “His message was always real and authentic as his passion was helping people to be better. It is an honor to work at Coach Thompson’s alma mater. He had a special place in his heart for Fr. Morris and appreciated the values he helped instill in him. As a mentor, Coach Thompson taught me about fit and loyalty and I will forever be grateful for the doors he opened for so many of us Black coaches. My heart is heavy today. It was an honor to have known him.”
Thompson, who was a nationally recruited big man, came to play at Providence College in 1960 for Head Coach Joe Mullaney. He was was one of the top players ever at Providence College. During his career at Providence, he scored 1,520 points (19.2 ppg) and grabbed 1,061 rebounds (13.4 rpg) in three seasons of action (freshmen were not eligible to compete on the varsity team). Thompson is one of only seven players in the history of Friar basketball to score more than 1,000 points and register more than 1,000 rebounds. He helped lead the Friars to the 1963 NIT title after he averaged 18.9 points and 14.0 rebounds. He was named to the 1963 NIT All-Tournament Team and earned All-New England honors. As a senior, Thompson earned First Team All-America accolades after he averaged 26.2 points and 14.5 rebounds. In addition to All-America honors, he also earned New England Player of the Year, All-East, ECAC All-Star, and East-West All-Star accolades. At the end of his senior year, he held Friar records for points, scoring average and field goal percentage. Currently, Thompson ranks third all-time in rebounding (13.4 rpg, 1,061 rebounds), 10th in field goal percentage (.531, 584-1,100) and 16th in scoring (1,520 points). He was selected in the third round of the 1964 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics. He played two seasons in the NBA, helping the Celtics capture two NBA titles (1965 and 1966). In addition to his great career at Providence College, Thompson served as the head coach of the Georgetown University men’s basketball team for 27 seasons (1972-99). During that time, he won one NCAA title (1984) and posted a 596-239 mark (.714). Thompson also served as the head coach of the 1988 U.S. Olympic Team, which won a Bronze Medal.
Thompson was inducted into the Providence College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1974 and was named a Friar Legend in 2015.