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Patrick Ewing hired as Georgetown head basketball coach

The Hoyas’ national champion center will roam the sidelines as their head coach.

Portland Trail Blazers v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Former Georgetown Hoyas basketball star Patrick Ewing is returning to the school as the team’s head coach, the school announced Monday. Ewing has been a Charlotte Hornets associate head coach since 2013 and an NBA assistant since 2002.

Ewing will replace John Thompson III, whom Georgetown fired after the season. Thompson spent 13 years at Georgetown and made the NCAA tournament eight times, but he missed it in three of the last four years and finished below .500 in the last two. His total record on the hill was 278-151 in in 429 games. Thompson coached some great players and some great offenses in the late 2000s, but he fell off.

Ewing was a center at Georgetown under Thompson’s father, John Thompson Jr., from 1981 to 1985. Those Hoyas won the national championship in 1984 and fell a game short the next year, before Ewing became the first overall pick in the 1985 NBA draft. Ewing landed with the New York Knicks after the most controversial draft lottery in professional sports history and went on to a Hall of Fame career.

His arrival at Georgetown will be thrilling for the fans who watched him in the 1980s, some of whom are now GU boosters. The program is vastly different and a lot less successful now than it was when Ewing played, but a homecoming’s a homecoming.

Ewing has a difficult job in front of him. He’ll have to recruit for the first time in his coaching career, and while being Patrick Ewing should help him a lot, landing top talent is difficult. The Hoyas share a metropolis with Maryland, which has emerged as a top recruiter in the Big Ten. But there’s a good deal of local talent in the area, and Georgetown’s still got a hint of a national brand. The Big East is a good league.

Because he’s never had his own NBA team, it’s hard to say which style of play to expect from Ewing’s teams. Thompson sped up GU’s offense considerably in his last few years and tended to build teams around inside scorers. Ewing was one of the most dominant post presences in Georgetown history, so him preferring an inside-centric approach would make sense. But until his team takes shape over the next few years, who knows?

Time will tell if Ewing works out as Georgetown’s coach. His lack of experience working in the college game makes him a bit of a wild card. But that he’s back at Georgetown is exciting and sort of heartwarming. We’ll see where it goes from here.