WASHINGTON – Patrick Ewing put Georgetown basketball on the map, turning the Hoyas into a national power as the menacing force in the middle in the 1980s.
Three decades later, Ewing is the Big Man on Campus again.
Georgetown hired Ewing on Monday, bringing the Hoyas legend back to take over a program that had fallen on hard times over the past two seasons and helping the former All-America center finally realize his long-held dream of becoming a head coach.
"My four years at Georgetown were the best of my life," Ewing said in a statement issued by the school.
"Georgetown is my home and it is a great honor for me to return to my alma mater and serve as the next head coach. I have been preparing to be a head coach for many years and can't wait to return to the Hilltop."
In announcing the hire, Georgetown called Ewing "the greatest men's basketball player to ever don the Blue [and] Gray."
He led the Hoyas to the school's only national championship in 1984 and now takes over for the son of the man who coached him at Georgetown in what is surely an emotional transfer of power.
John Thompson III, the son of John Thompson, was fired last month after consecutive losing seasons.
It was a decision that pained many at the school given the legacy of the Thompson name, but they filled the vacancy with perhaps the only name bigger in school annals.
Ewing was a three-time All-America at Georgetown, a fearsome presence in the paint who led the Hoyas to three national title games.
"Of all the players that have gone from superstardom to putting in the time and paying their dues to becoming a head coach, Patrick deserves this probably more than any player ever," said Miami Heat President Pat Riley, who coached Ewing with the Knicks.
"I am absolutely delighted for him and I think he'll do a great job at Georgetown."
Timberwolves coach and president Tom Thibodeau, who was an assistant with the Knicks while Ewing was a player there, said he was disappointed Ewing had to wait this long and added that "he's a guy who deserved one a long time ago and should've gotten one a long time ago."
"The way he paid his dues, oftentimes you don't see a player of that stature do what he did," Thibodeau said. "I think he's very deserving. I think he'll do an unbelievable job. I'm thrilled for him."
UNC Wilmington hired longtime North Carolina assistant C.B. McGrath as its head coach. McGrath has spent 18 years with coach Roy Williams. UNCW said McGrath will take over the Seahawks on Tuesday. Also, Austin Peay is hiring South Carolina assistant Matt Figger as its next coach. He replaces Dave Loos, who retired last month.
Kentucky freshman guard De'Aaron Fox, as expected, will enter the NBA draft, becoming the first of several Wildcats underclassmen who could leave after reaching the Elite Eight this season. Also, freshman forward Juwan Durham became the third UConn player to announce that he is leaving the program. Durham joins freshman Vance Jackson and sophomore Steven Enoch, who are planning to transfer after the Huskies went 16-17.