Local coaches reflect on Thompson’s legacy

Hall of Fame head coach died on Aug. 31

SALISBURY, Md- Standing at 6-feet, 10 inches tall, John Thompson Jr. was a larger than life figure on the sidelines for Georgetown University.

The program’s most successful basketball coach of all-time died on Monday at the age of 78. Thompson coached the Hoyas to 596 wins, three final fours, and one national championship in 1984. With that national championship win over Houston, Thompson became the first African-American head coach to win a Division I national championship.

His legacy could easily be defined by the things he did on the court, but he was even more respected off. Numerous stories paint Thompson as a quick-tempered disciplinarian who got the best from his players on and off the court. That style was noticed by man, including current Decatur boys basketball head coach BJ Johnson. “I always liked the way Coach Thompson demanded respect,” said Johnson. “He held his kids accountable and he set the tone for all of that.

Others know “Big Ace” for his patent look–a white towel splashed over the shoulder of his suit. “I always said if I ever got a chance to coach, I’d want to be like John Thompson,” said former Washington boys head coach Nick Purnell. “I had a burgundy towel with my name on it, that was from John Thompson.”

The man that brought G-Town into the spotlight in the mid-80’s sent influences in all over the world, including the Eastern Shore.

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