Former Georgetown coach John Thompson III is among the pool of potential candidates for the George Washington men's basketball head coaching job, multiple sources tell NBC Sports Washington.
George Washington announced Friday the firing of head coach Maurice Joseph following his third season with the Colonials. Joseph, 33, finished with a 44-57 record including 9-24 during the 2018-19 season that ended with a second-round loss in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Thompson, 53, compiled a 278-151 record during 13 seasons at Georgetown before his dismissal following the 2016-17 season.
Thompson’s teams at Georgetown won three Big East regular-season titles and reached the NCAA Tournament eight times with an appearance in 2007 Final Four. Several of his players turned into NBA standouts including Otto Porter, Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert. After 11 consecutive winning seasons, the Hoyas finished 15-18 and 14-18 in Thompson’s final two seasons.
The Washington, D.C. native also won three Ivy League championships as Princeton’s head coach.
Thompson spent the last two seasons as a college basketball analyst for ESPN and an assistant coach for USA Basketball. Thompson recently told The Athletic he is ready to get back into coaching.
“We’ll see what the future holds,” Thompson said of his coaching prospects. “I don’t know if this is going to sound crazy, but I think (I’m better) in every area. … Looking at all of that, I think … it’s been a good two years for my growth.”
His selection would be fascinating. The Georgetown and GW campuses are separated by less than two miles. Thompson’s family, including his iconic coaching father John Jr., remain prominent fixtures at Georgetown. The two programs are historic rivals with 93 all-time meetings but have not played head-to-head since the 1981-82 season.
Joseph, a former assistant under Mike Lonergan, was thrust into his first head-coaching job on an interim basis at age 31 amid a chaotic situation.
Five months after Lonergan directed the Colonials to the 2016 postseason NIT championship, the school fired the coach following a Washington Post report and an internal investigation into concerns over verbal and emotional abuse with players.
Joseph was promoted 10 days later. With future NBA players Tyler Cavanaugh and Yuta Watanabe on the roster, Joseph led the Colonials to a 20-win season and received a contract extension in 2017.
He entered the 2018-19 seasons with a roster filled with underclassmen and newcomers. Losing forward Arnoldo Toro seven games into the season following hip surgery removed the Colonials top rebounder and most experienced returning player.
Despite Joseph’s best efforts, connections to the previous regime hovered over his three seasons. The firing allows the school to move finally forward under the direction of GW president Thomas LeBlanc and promote specific advantages including the fertile recruiting area.
The Colonials have reached the NCAA Tournament only four times in the last 20 seasons and once since the 2013-14 campaign.
According to data provided by the U.S. Department of Education, GW’s 2016 budget for the men’s basketball program ($2.94 million) ranked below the Atlantic 10 Conference average of $4.3 million and 13th among the league’s 14 teams. The 2018-19 numbers are comparable, according to a source.
Thompson’s individual salary alone at Georgetown, based on published reports, topped GW’s 2016 basketball budget.
The sense from the Foggy Bottom campus has the University invested in program stability and becoming and a year in, year out winner, with the search focusing on current D1 head coaches or assistants at high majors with significant postseason experience.
Bowling Green head coach Michael Huger, Louisiana Tech head coach Eric Konkol and Duke assistant coach Nate James are among the other likely candidates, NBC Sports Washington has learned.
Several of the other potential candidates have ties to University of Miami head coach Jim Larranaga. LeBlanc served as executive vice president and provost at Miami from 2005 until his move to GW in 2017.
Huger and Konkol are both former Larranaga assistants at George Mason. Huger, 48, directed Bowling Green to a 22-12 record in his fourth season. Konkol, 83-49 during his four seasons with Louisiana Tech, led the Bulldogs to a 20-13 record this season.
James, a D.C. native, won an NCAA championship at Duke in 2001 and served on Mike Krzyzewski's coaching staff since 2007.
Other potential candidates include Miami assistant Chris Caputo and UMBC head coach Ryan Odom.
A spokesperson for GW declined to comment when asked about the potential candidates in the coaching search.
The Colonials are poised to return their entire roster including leading scorers D.J. Williams and Terry Nolan Jr.
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