On Monday morning, the Washington Wizards announced several key changes to the front office with the hope of reshaping the future of Monumental Sports and Entertainment.
Following the weekend news of Tommy Sheppard being promoted to General Manager of the Washington Wizards, Ted Leonsis, the Chairman and CEO of MSE announced the hiring of former Cleveland Browns executive Sashi Brown, former Philadelphia 76ers medical professional Daniel Medina and former Georgetown head coach John Thompson III. Brown will serve as the senior vice president of a new "Monumental Basketball" collective. The new vertical will include the Capital City Go-Go, Washington Mystics and Wizards District Gaming.
While the hiring of a former football executive will get people talking, the more notable hire from a local perspective is Thompson III, who spent 13 seasons at Georgetown, amassing a record of 278-251 including eight trips to the NCAA Tournament and a trip to the Final Four. Thompson III was let go by the Hoyas at the end of the 2016-17 season following back-to-back losing seasons and a string of early exits in the NCAA Tournament.
Thompson III's role with the Wizards will be to lead the new athlete development and engagement department. Thompson III's department will focus on "maximizing player potential both on and off the court for all Monumental Basketball athletes," the team announced in an official statement. "Employing a holistic development approach, the department will focus on financial literacy, post-playing career opportunities and the overall empowerment and development of athletes.
While Thompson III's tenure at Georgetown ended on a sour note, with consecutive losing seasons and failing to reach the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament since advancing to the 2007 Final Four, the 2013 Big East Coach of the Year and son of legendary college coach John Thompson Jr., has always been lauded as his skills as an educator and developer of young men.
Having the elder Thompson, along with former Princeton head coach Peter Carril, as a life-long advisors, Thompson III has as rich a basketball pedigree as one could have. He had a front-row seat to where basketball came from and helped guide it to where it's headed.
John Thompson III, The Recruiter
Thompson III was a strong recruiter during the height of his success at Georgetown, consistently hauling in top 25 classes despite the challenging admissions standards the university holds. The Hoyas landed top 10 recruiting classes in 2008 and 2010 and Thompson III landed commitments from McDonald's All-Americans on four different occasions,
He was also responsible for the Hoya's improvement in graduation rate among Division I basketball players, which was at 59 percent from 1992 to 1996 and 47 percent for the freshman class that entered in 1996 and graduated in 1999.
By 2016, the Hoyas' basketball program registered a score of 996 and ranked in the 90th percentile for multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR).
Thompson III's Coaching Tree
Thompson has also groomed several former players now embarking on coaching careers.
Kevin Broadus left Georgetown after three seasons in 2007 to take the head coaching position at Binghamton and currently serves as the head coach at Morgan State. Sydney Johnson, like Broadus, left Georgetown after three seasons in 2007 to take the head coaching position at Princeton. He spent four seasons with the Tigers before spending the next eight seasons as the head coach at Fairfield University.
David Cox, who joined the Georgetown staff following the departures of Broadus and Johnson, spent three seasons with the Hoyas before taking the associate head coaching position at Rutgers, where he would stay before leaving to take the same job at the University of Rhode Island. He was named head coach of the Rams in 2018. Mike Brennan, the current head coach at American University, spent four seasons on Thompson III's staff from 2009 until 2013, and Tavares Hardy, who spent 2013 until 2016 with the Hoyas, is the head coach at Loyola (Md.)
Thompson III and Player Development
There are former Hoya stars Othella Harrington, Jonathan Wallace, and Patrick Ewing Jr., who still work at Georgetown too. Harrington and Wallace as assistant coaches and Ewing Jr. in the Athletic Department. There are the six different stints as a coach in the USA Basketball program, most recently as an assistant during FIBA World Cup qualifying beginning in 2017. There are the twelve former players to have suited up in the NBA, eight selected in the draft and four earning contracts through free agency, and there are the seven former players currently competing professionally overseas.
Thompson III has a strong track record of aiding his players and employees in taking the next step in their career development. His pedigree and experience grooming highly coveted recruits will be called upon frequently in his new position within Monumental Basketball.
Monumental Basketball's goal is to be the standard-bearer of player development in the future, and that lines up perfectly with Thompson III's best skill set.
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