Candidates for GW's men's basketball coaching vacancy include... former Georgetown John Thompson III

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Candidates for GW's men's basketball coaching vacancy include... former Georgetown John Thompson III

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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VCU forward Marcus Santos-Silva declares for 2020 NBA Draft

VCU forward Marcus Santos-Silva declares for 2020 NBA Draft

In this time of mass quarantining, live sports have come to a standstill across the country, but that hasn’t stopped college basketball’s offseason from churning along.

Players across the nation are deciding where they want to play next season, and the latest impactful player to take a step toward next year is VCU’s Marcus Santos-Silva.

The junior forward announced on his Instagram his intentions to enter the 2020 NBA Draft.

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It’s not yet clear how limited the NBA’s draft preparation will be as a result of COVID-19, but Santos-Silva does mention in his announcement that he will be maintaining his college eligibility in case he decides to return for his senior season.

Santos-Silva came off the bench his freshman season, but has started all 64 games in the last two years for VCU. As a junior, he averaged 12.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game in 27.2 minutes.

He does all of his damage close to the rim, as he has yet to attempt a three-point shot in his college career.


How Howard University coach Larry Scott is leading his team from home

How Howard University coach Larry Scott is leading his team from home

Starting any new job can be stressful, but starting it under a COVID-19 outbreak? A whirlwind.  

That’s exactly how Howard University’s new head football coach, Larry Scott, describes it.  

“You take the job beginning of February and ask yourself, what all has to be done?” Scott said. “And you go, ‘Everything.’”   

And yet you can’t do anything outside of your home. 

Scott is challenged with trying to change the culture of a team that finished the 2019 season 2-10, seventh in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. He’s had to evaluate his roster, hire a new coaching staff, and hopefully bring in the right recruits.  Seems impossible, but Scott sees it completely the opposite.  

“It’s all about people, it’s all about building a strong connection within a team,” Scott said.  “Thank god I had some really good strong relationships with some coaches that I have worked with and admired from afar."

Scott coached under Dan Mullen at the University of Florida and Butch Jones at the University of Tennessee, learning leadership skills he has relied upon while installing his own system at Howard -- especially during this trying time.   

“It actually plays well into the whole concept -- football is still about people and how you make them feel,” Scott said. “Trust factors are built though connections.” 

Howard’s football team holds position meetings two times a week, staff meetings once a week, and uses Zoom to communicate with players daily.  Scott held his first full team meeting on Monday using Microsoft Teams while his strength and conditioning coach sends out daily workouts via Twitter challenging players to find creative ways to stay in football shape.  

Full-body workouts can be better than weights. Packing a book bag or finding water bottles can substitute creativity when the normal tools are not available. It’s about taking ownership of your body, when no one is telling you what time to be in the gym or standing over you counting reps.   

But all that is expected for a football team. Scott is also holding meetings that involve the full academic staff.  

“We have a plan for how we’re attacking academics and our online classes,” Scott said.  

A big part of that are talks on shifting the grade system to pass-fail concepts and where to accept letter grades. Scott wants his players to keep their scholarships and stay eligible. If they don’t keep their studies up, all the training in the world won’t matter. There is no football. Not even when football returns.   

For Scott, the cool thing about communicating all this to young men, is just that. They’re young. The virtual world is more their reality than any previous generation. They order all their food through Uber Eats. They have endless apps on their phones. They can adapt because technology lets them. And in so doing they help their coach adapt, too, during tough times. Together, when they finally return to the field, Scott believes they’ll all have a deeper appreciation for college football. 

“It’s kind of fun entering into their world into how they see things and view things and being able to still reach them and relate to them and teach them on a level that is expanding our mind,” Scott said. “It’s still about seeing young people find ways to have success, create avenues of opportunity.”   

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