A Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and three-time Big East Coach of the Year, Thompson retired from coaching in 1999. During his tenure at Georgetown, he coached several NBA first-round picks including Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Bill Martin, Sleepy Floyd and Allen Iverson.
Thompson was born and raised in Washington, D.C. At Archbishop Carroll High School, he emerged as a standout center, playing in three consecutive city championship games. During his senior year, Thompson led Carroll to a 24–0 record, preserving its 48-game winning streak along the way.
After graduation, Thompson went to Providence College, where he played on the 1963 NIT Championship team and was part of the first Providence NCAA tournament team in 1964. He was an All-American in his senior year of 1964.
Thompson was drafted in the third round in 1964 and played two years in the NBA for the Boston Celtics.
Thompson then became the head coach at St. Anthony High School in Washington, D.C., from 1966 to 1972, racking up a 122–28 record. He was then hired to become the head coach of Georgetown’s men’s basketball team, where he spent the remainder of his Hall of Fame career.
Over the following 27 years, Thompson’s Hoyas had a .714 winning percentage and ran off a streak of 24 postseason appearances, including a 14-year streak of NCAA appearances from 1979 to 1992 that saw three Final Four appearances in 1982, 1984 and 1985, a national championship in 1984 and narrowly missing a repeat the next year by losing to underdog Villanova.
Thompson won seven Coach of the Year awards.