Today is Christmas Eve for John Thompson, Georgetown University basketball coach. He is not asking for a lot this year. Just one gift -- a 7-foot high school basketball player, Patrick Ewing, who some say is the next Bill Russell.
Ewing, the most coveted schoolboy player in America this year, is expected to announce he will attend Georgetown next year at a press conference Monday at 4 p.m. If he does attend Georgetown, his presence could help transform the Hoyas from their current mediocre status to NCAA final four material almost immediately.
An announcement in favor of any school other than Georgetown (North Carolina and Boston College were other leading contenders) will be shocking, according to sources close to Ewing and Mike Jarvis, his Cambridge Rindge and Latin School coach who has controlled almost every aspect of Ewing's highly publicized college courtship.
Jarvis answers all inquiries about Ewing's decision in the same manner. "Find out tomorrow, just like me."
If Georgetown does land Ewing, that may also increase the Hoyas' chances of singing Dunbar High star Anthony Jones, a 6-6 forward who likely is one of the 10 best prep players in the country. Jones has reportedly narrowed his choices to Georgetown and North Carolina, but said earlier in the year he would love to play with Ewing.
"We would all love to see Anthony go to Georgetown, and we are hoping he does select them over North Carolina," said one longtime Dunbar observer. "But he hasn't told any of us when he will make his decision, or who it will be. He does like Ewing."
Dunbar Coach Joe Dean Davidson is a good friend of Thompson's and sent both John Duren and Craig Shelton to the Hilltop five years ago. Neither Davidson nor Jones will comment on the senior's college choice.
With Ewing and Jones joining all-American Sleepy Floyd, Fred Brown (just a freshman) and Ed Spriggs or Eric Smith in the Hoya starting lineup next season, Georgetown would have more talent than it did last year when Duren and Shelton led the team to a 26-6 record and the NCAA quarterfinals.
But it all depends on what Ewing announces at Satch's Restaurant (owned by former Boston Celtic Satch Sanders) Monday. A spokesman for the establishment said today at least 150 people, mostly media members, are expected to be in attendance.
Those who insist Ewing is locked on Georgetown should think back to last spring when Chicago prep star Russell Cross, last year's Ewing, was considered a cinch to attend Purdue.
Cross walked into the press conference, which was set up by a local radio station, wearing a Purdue T-shirt to the delight of smiling Purdue Coach Gene Keady. Cross then announced he would attend Division II Illinois Circle before changing his mind just weeks later, in favor of Purdue.