Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEWARK, N.J. — Georgetown coach John Thompson III has a summer story that no one else in his class can match.
The Hoyas made international headlines when their exhibition game Aug. 18 in Shanghai against a Chinese military team ended in a benches-clearing melee.
Thompson pulled his team off the floor in Olympic Sports Stadium with 9 minutes, 32 seconds remaining and the game against the Bayi Rockets tied at 64. Ironic, since it was billed as the “China-U.S. Friendship Basketball Match.”
“Like most experiences in life, it’s not a smooth, straight line,” Thompson told SNY.tv Tuesday during an open gym at St. Benedict’s Prep. “There are bumps, there are hiccups, and so that was just part of that. Overall, I thought the trip was great for our team.”
Three days after the brawl broke out, Georgetown came back and faced another Chinese team, the Liaoning Dinosaurs, in what turned out to be a more peaceful encounter. The two sides greeted each other warmly before the game and exchanged gifts. The Hoyas won in a rout, 91-69.
Perhaps lost in all the hubbub about the brawl was the play of Georgetown’s freshmen class.
With talented guards Chris Wright and Austin Freeman now departed, Thompson must rely on frosh Tyler Adams, Jabril Trawick, Otto Porter, Mikael Hopkins and Greg Whittington to help forge a new identity.
“We have five, and four of them played very, very well over in China,” Thompson III said. “Tyler Adams is still hurt.”
The coach is especially pleased with the 6-foot-9 Whittington, who is listed as a forward but will play guard.
“He’s a two,” Thompson III said of the Columbia, Md., native. “He’s played a year in the D.C. area. He’s a very good offensive player, and he’s just now learning he can be a really good defensive player, too. But he can score. He can shoot and score.”
Thompson III compares him to 6-7 junior forward Hollis Thompson, but said, “I don’t think I’ve had one [guard] his height that can do the things that he can do.”
Coach also likes Trawick, a 6-5 guard who excelled in the New York IS8 league in the spring, Porter, a 6-8 forward from Missouri, and the 6-8 Hopkins out of DeMatha.
“All four of the ones that played had good trips to China, so we’re ahead of the game,” he said. “We’re ahead of the game because that’s why we took the trip, to get those guys acclimated to what we want to do.”
After leaving St. Benedict’s, Thompson III and assistant Robert Kirby were slated to have their in-home visit with 6-8 St. Anthony point guard Kyle Anderson. Anderson is mulling the Hoyas, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Florida and UCLA and is due to announce Tuesday.
**Anderson talks Georgetown visit
**Trawick looking for big Hoyas career
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.