Less than 24 hours after parting ways with longtime coach John Thompson III, Georgetown officials began their search in earnest for a replacement on Friday morning, with a handful of familiar Division I names under consideration, according to people familiar with the proceedings.
Among the more intriguing candidates are Tommy Amaker, Mike Brey and Shaka Smart, one person with knowledge of the situation confirmed while requesting anonymity because negotiations are in the nascent stages.
Amaker, the head coach at Harvard, was born in Falls Church and played high school basketball at W.T. Woodson before attending Duke, where he served an assistant under Mike Krzyzewski. Amaker has directed the Crimson to five Ivy League championships and the program’s first NCAA tournament victory, in 2013. He previously was head coach at Michigan and Seton Hall.
Brey, Notre Dame’s head coach, also served as an assistant to Krzyzewski after five seasons in the same capacity at Washington area high school power DeMatha for legendary former coach Morgan Wootten. Brey was born in Bethesda and attended graduate school at George Washington. The Fighting Irish have made nine NCAA tournament appearances under Brey.
Smart has spent the past two seasons at Texas following an accomplished career at Virginia Commonwealth, leading the Rams to the 2011 Final Four with a brand of defense harking back to that deployed by former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr., the architect of the program that won the national championship in 1984 as part of three Final Four berths in four seasons.
Smart went 11-22 this season with Texas, which lured him away from VCU with a lucrative contract. Last year, Texas school officials extended Smart through 2023 after the Longhorns went 23-10. He reportedly earned $3 million this season.
That’s not far off from Thompson III’s compensation package in 2014, when according to the most recently available tax records he earned approximately $3.6 million.
Published reports also have indicated Patrick Ewing may be a candidate, although his interest remains in question, people close to him said, given his loyalty to the Thompson family.
Other people with knowledge of the search process, which is being led by Paul Tagliabue, vice chair of Georgetown’s board of directors, and Athletic Director Lee Reed, indicated the school may be wary of hiring a coach with ties to the Thompson family.
Ewing played for the elder Thompson in the early 1980s, becoming the greatest player in program history as well as one of the greatest collegians of all time. In recent years, Ewing’s son, Patrick Ewing Jr., was on the staff of Thompson III, whom the younger Ewing had played for during his college career.
All of these connections, those sources said, left Ewing conflicted about the possibility of becoming Thompson III’s successor. In addition, Ewing has spent more than a decade attempting to become an NBA head coach.
Since retiring in the early 2000s, Ewing has spent time working under Jeff Van Gundy with the Houston Rockets, Stan Van Gundy with the Orlando Magic and, currently, the Hornets’ Steve Clifford.
Ewing has interviewed for several NBA jobs, including the Hornets and Sacramento Kings, and has earned respect around the league for both his work as an assistant and his willingness, despite being an all-time great player, to put in the time as an assistant as opposed to expecting to be handed a job because of his decorated playing career.
Tim Bontemps contributed to this report.