John Thompson III

Georgetown’s John Thompson admits to faking pregame speeches for TV

4 Comments

It’s not a secret that Georgetown has one of the most strict policies in all of college basketball when it comes to media access to the team.

They don’t invite media members into practice. Reporters do not get to go into the locker room postgame. They are as cleansed and bland as anyone in the country when it comes to the answers that their players give to questions. A lot of that stems from the reign of “Big John” Thompson, when Hoya Paranoia was in full force. The patriarch of the Georgetown program and the father of current head coach John Thompson III still has quite a bit of influence over on the Hilltop.

On Tuesday, Thompson hopped on ESPN 980 in D.C. and gave a fairly enlightening view into why he keeps such a tight lid on his program while providing us with one of the best anecdotes that you will hear a head coach give this summer. He was asked about the NFL training camp reality show ‘Hard Knocks’ and whether or not he would want to deal with something like that as a coach (transcription via DC Sports Bog):

“Personally as a coach — and the world is changing — but I don’t want to be miked,” he said. “I don’t want people in the locker room, I don’t want people in training camp, I don’t want people in meetings, because I want to be able — sometimes — to talk in those tongues I learned growing up that you can’t do when the cameras are there.

“Now, the world is changing. I just rattled off I don’t want to do all that, but I had people come in our halftime room this year. I had people come in for a pregame speech. The world is changing, and as coaches you have to adapt. But you just asked me do I want that? Absolutely not. Absolutely not.”

He wasn’t done.

“I maybe shouldn’t say this, but I’m gonna say it,” Thompson said. “I’m miked for pre-game talk. So I tell the team, ‘Look fellas, the cameras are coming in.’ I said: ‘I’m gonna make up something to say, all right? We’re gonna sit here, let them stay with us for about five minutes, then we’re gonna kick ‘em out, then we’re gonna have our real talk. Don’t. Start. Laughing.’”

“So the people from Fox come in, and I’m going through my spiel. And we write a speech for this. I’m sitting there going through my spiel, and the team was just looking at me, snickering. At one point, I had to turn my back to the camera, because I was getting ready to break out laughing.”

There’s more.

“I’ll even break it down even further, even with letting people come into practice,” Thompson said. “I know I talk differently, I coach differently if I have a mic on. I know I talk differently, I coach differently if there are people sitting up in the stands in practice.”

“And so it’s not like everything is always ‘Oh, there are these secret walls up around Georgetown.’ There is some of that, don’t get me wrong. But to create the best learning environment for our kids, I think sometimes we don’t need to be miked. We don’t need to be putting on a show 24-7, 365 for the audience. We need to be helping this group that’s in front of us grow up, get better, and become young men.”

I’m sure he’s not the only coach that does that, but he also has a point. As a media member, I want access — I need access — to be able to do my job. But my job is to write and to talk about somebody else’s real life. Publicity is a good thing, and getting used to dealing with media every day is important for the players who have professional aspirations, but at the end of the day, the Georgetown players and coaches have a job to do. Sometimes, limiting media access is the best way to do it.

Either way, that’s one fantastic anecdote.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
Leave a comment

Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

Leave a comment

Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
Leave a comment

Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
Leave a comment

Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.