Legendary Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr., known simply as “Big John” throughout college basketball, has died at age 78.
Thompson had been suffering from multiple health challenges, a family source said. The cause of death is unknown. He was surrounded by family and friends when he passed away.
“Our father was an inspiration to many and devoted his life to developing young people not simply on, but most importantly, off the basketball court,” Thompson’s family said. “He is revered as a historic shepherd of the sport, dedicated to the welfare of his community above all else.”
The Hall of Famer led Georgetown’s team to 24 consecutive postseason appearances, while also maintaining a player graduation rate of 97%.
The legendary coach led the Hoyas to three Final Fours (in 1982, 1984 and 1985), 24 straight postseason appearances (19 NCAA, five National Invitation Tournaments), and seven Big East tournament championships.
Seventy-five of Thompson’s 77 players who stayed all four years received college degrees and 26 of his players were drafted in the NBA, including Hall of Famers Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutumbo, Alonzo Mourning and Allen Iverson.
“I’m going to miss you, but I’m sure that you are looking down on us with a big smile,” Iverson wrote in tribute to Thompson on social media.
Thompson played ball at Providence College and was drafted by the Boston Celtics, winning two NBA titles in his two-year career.
He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.