History & Tradition: Top 50 Recruits Of The John Thompson Era

By Chris Sortwell (SFS 1978)

In the following series I attempt to expand a bar conversation that has raged between my Georgetown friends and I for the past 25 years or so, specifically, who are the greatest Hoya players and why?

This conversation had taken on a particular specificity a couple years ago when it was not clear if Mike Sweetney would stay for his senior year and, if he did, might he force his way into the top 5 Hoya players of all time? This list attempts to rank order the 50 best players of the John Thompson era, and provide comments, some detailed and some less so, about their skills, their successes and their failures, and the times in which they played. The period covers the 33 seasons between 1972-73 and 2004-05, encompassing the reigns of Thompson the Elder (Big John), Thompson the Assistant (Craig Esherick) and Thompson the Younger (JT III). Not coincidentally, this period roughly covers my exposure to the Hoyas as I arrived at Georgetown in the fall of 1974, just in time for the Hoyas first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1943.

A few notes on the criteria that I used in putting this list together. I considered any Thompson era Hoya eligible, even if they did not finish their senior season, provided that they did not transfer to another school. Thus, for example, Victor Page and Michael Graham are eligible while Tony Bethel and Shernard Long are, in the words of another poster on the Hoyatalk board, 'dead to me." Treason will not be tolerated.

Injuries have also played a role in my thought process. To the extent that players clearly establish a level of performance at the College level and then see their performance decline because of injury, I give them the benefit of the doubt. This helps Hoyas such as Merlin Wilson and Fred Brown. Alternatively, if injuries prevent a player from demonstrating his true capabilities such as in the case of Jonathan Edwards, well you can't evaluate something that you have never seen.

The duration of a player's career matters as well but not in a formulaic manner. Thus the fact that Allen Iverson only played two years is a negative for his career relative to Sleepy Floyd, but it is one factor, albeit an important one, among many.

Ultimately, this list reflects my judgment as to where each Hoya should rank in the Hoya Pantheon. I shared my initial list with my classmates John and Peter over a large number of beers and they helped me clarify my thinking in a number of instances - and no, I still can't explain what John Jacques was doing on my first pass at this ranking. Special thanks go out to this site, which is an invaluable reference source. I cannot begin to imagine the amount of work that went into putting the History information together. Where possible, I have attempted to verify my information, but I am certain that there must be a few "facts" contained herein that are a product of a faulty memory. Of course any of my judgments may be faulty as well.

My motivations in putting this ranking together are threefold. First, thinking about where individual Hoyas might rank is an act of affirmation with a school and a basketball program that have meant a tremendous amount to me since I stepped on to the Hilltop for my freshman year 31 years ago. In a way it has been like writing a diary, although perhaps not as cathartic. Second, I hope in some small way to educate a number of readers for whom much of this history occurred before they were born. In particular, I hope to at least somewhat illuminate the pre-Ewing years during which the foundations of future greatness were laid. Finally, I hope to spark a fact based discussion with fellow board members as we all anxiously wait for the season to begin.

I look forward to hearing your opinions on my ranking. Enjoy.

1. Patrick Ewing
2. Reggie Williams
3. Sleepy Floyd
4. Alonzo Mourning
5. Allen Iverson
6. Mike Sweetney
7. (tie) John Duren
7. (tie) Craig Shelton
9. Derrick Jackson
10. David Wingate

11. Charles Smith
12. Dikembe Mutombo
13. Othella Harrington
14. Michael Jackson
15. Merlin Wilson
16. Victor Page
17. Mark Tillmon
18. Kevin Braswell
19. Bill Martin
20. Jerome Williams
21. Eric Smith
22. Jonathan Smith
23. Fred Brown
24. Gene Smith
25. Perry McDonald
26. Brandon Bowman
27. Al Dutch
28. Joey Brown
29. Dwayne Bryant
30. Michael Graham
 
31. Jaren Jackson
32. Jeff Green
33. Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje
34. Gerald Riley
35. Steve Martin
36. Don Reid
37. Robert Churchwell
38. Billy Lynn
39. Boubacar Aw
40. Ralph Dalton
41. Jahidi White
42. Ed Hopkins
43. Horace Broadnax
44. George Butler
45. Anthony Perry
46. Larry Long
47. Tom Skates
48. Cheikh Dia
49. Lee Scruggs
50. Ed Spriggs