Patrick Ewing Hire Was Right Move At Right Time For Georgetown

    Georgetown hired former Hoyas legend Patrick Ewing as its new head men's basketball coach. It was the right decision for a struggling program.

    April 4, 2017

    Georgetown hired former Hoyas legend Patrick Ewing as its new head men’s basketball coach. It was the right decision for a struggling program.


    We won’t know for awhile if Georgetown’s hire of former Hoyas legend Patrick Ewing will go down as a successful one. But school officials unquestionably made the right move by bringing in the former NBA star player to help make the Hoyas a competitive outfit once again.

    When it was announced that Georgetown was letting go of John Thompson III after 13 seasons following a 14-18 campaign—the team’s third season in the last four without an NCAA Tournament berth—the school needed to find a leader capable of restoring the basketball program’s historic past while also moving it into a brighter future. The search for a replacement, a task led by vice chairman of the board of directors Paul Tagliabue and athletic director Lee Reed, was not going to be easy—especially because John Thompson Jr. still yields a lot of power on the Georgetown campus. While his son was dismissed after a long tenure at the school, perhaps Thompson Jr. wanted to ensure his voice in finding the program’s replacement resonated even more.

    According to a report, Georgetown sought an established college head coach and ended up bringing in Ewing after failing to come to terms with some of the names they were wooing. Perhaps it will end up being a blessing in disguise for a fan base that enjoyed 20 NCAA Tournament appearances in Thompson Jr.’s 27 seasons, including a national championship in 1984. Before it started slipping, the program reached the Final Four under Thompson III in 2007 and was a consistent participant in the Big Dance despite failing to make it out of the first weekend in their next six tournament appearances following that Final Four run.

    Now, Georgetown—and Thompson Jr.—look toward the best player in program history to lead it back to its consistent winning ways.

    While Ewing does not have the collegiate coaching background that school officials typically seek, he has been an assistant coach in the NBA since 2002, serving stints with the Washington Wizards, Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic and most recently with the Charlotte Hornets. So while it’s easy to compare Ewing’s hire to that of Chris Mullin at St. John’s—college and NBA star heading back to his alma mater—keep in mind that Mullin did not have any coaching experience when he was hired in 2015. Ewing has certainly earned his stripes.

    However, the Hall of Famer will face his share of challenges transitioning to being a full-time head coach at a spotlight program.

    The former star who helped lead Georgetown to three national title game appearances will get to understand just how much recruiting is the lifeblood of a successful program. It is something that he has never had to do as an NBA assistant. Making things even more arduous is that he’s trying to revive a once-proud program coming off of back-to-back losing seasons. L.J. Peak has declared for the 2017 NBA Draft, while top recruit Tremont Waters requested a release from his National Letter of Intent.

    It will be essential for Ewing to surround himself with a strong supporting coaching staff that is very familiar with recruiting, the AAU scene, D.C. itself, etc., if he is to have success like some of the other NBA coaches who have moved over to the college game, such as Eric Musselman and Avery Johnson.

    Georgetown’s hiring of Ewing will be a great success if he can seamlessly transition into the college game, bring in quality players along the recruiting trail and eventually compete with the likes of Villanova and Butler in the Big East. However, the move could just as easily end up being a flop, with the Hoyas fledgling behind Ewing’s lack of experience on the college sideline.

    No matter how the Georgetown brand looks in a few years, though, Ewing is an intriguing hire whose name-value could be a real benefit when it comes to dealing with the politics of local AAU programs as well as the rich talent base in Washington D.C. He will certainly change the Hoyas’ style of play, as the Princeton offense seemingly became a bit of a turnoff to recruits in recent years.

    Ewing takes over a program competing in a much different Big East than the one he played in years ago. He also enters a modern college basketball landscape that can be unforgiving—and that’s just in terms of the various off-the-court challenges a head coach faces in big business college hoops. But Ewing finally landed a much-deserved a head gig. And what better place to get it than at a program that desperately needed to shake things up to restore its consistent past success.

    MORE: Marques Bolden To Remain At Duke, Will Not Transfer

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