ST. LOUIS, Mo- When Missouri takes to Norm Stewart Court at Mizzou Arena against Oral Roberts Wednesday night, Tiger Head Coach Cuonzo Martin will join coaches around the country in paying tribute to the late Georgetown Hoyas basketball coach, John Thompson, Jr., who passed away in August.
Thompson always coached with a white towel draped over his shoulder as he guided Georgetown to the 1984 National Championship, becoming the first African-American head coach to win a collegiate title. In a career spanning four decades, he built the Hoyas and the Big East Conference into a national power, and Thompson used the platform that came along with that to highlight inequalities, from NCAA rules to the lack of African-American representation in the coaching ranks.
Wednesday night, Martin will swap out the black towel he usually keeps handy and will use a white one over his shoulder, to recognize the legacy Thompson paved for others that was about more than the game.
“He saw 10, 20 years down the road, he didn’t see you in that present moment where you stand currently he understood what life you were about to lead, what you were about to get yourself into, how to prepare for life,” Martin said Tuesday. Martin said he was “grateful and blessed” to hear one of Thompson’s last speeches.