Otto Porter, John Thompson III win Big East awards
NEW YORK (AP) John Thompson, the first of the Georgetown coaches with that name, was sitting on a raised area just feet from where John Thompson III was accepting the trophy for Big East Coach of the Year.
Tuesday's presentation brings JT III, as he is known, within two seasonal awards of his Hall of Fame father.
It almost seemed like closure when the award was presented.
John Thompson won the award after the Big East's first season in 1979-80. John Thompson III won it for the season that will be the last of the Big East as we know it. Seven Catholic members have left with others leaving in a year or two. The surviving Big East football schools will play on with others schools joining over the next few years.
JT III doesn't care about any of that now.
"I wish you guys would stop writing obits and start looking to the future," he said. "We are looking forward and we will have Big East basketball next season and the postseason tournament will be played at Madison Square Garden with some of the best teams in the country, some of the best coaches in the country.
"This will be a very good league, a league (the late Big East founder) Mr. (Dave) Gavitt will look down and smile upon. It will be a conference my dad and the other great coaches like Lou Carnesecca and Rollie Massimino will smile upon and (Connecticut coach Jim) Calhoun and (Syracuse coach Jim) Boeheim will begrudgingly smile about it."
The Hoyas shared the regular season title with Louisville and Marquette with 14-4 records. A lot of their success, which included a school-record 11 straight Big East wins, can be attributed to 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr., who was the unanimous choice as Big East Player of the Year.
Porter was second in the league in scoring (18.1), fifth in rebounding (7.3), tied for third in steals (1.8) and second in 3-point shooting (44.1 percent).
He said he never thought about winning the award but he has looked at the list of names he joins, including six former Hoyas who took home seven trophies - the last being Jeff Green in 2006-07.
"It's a big advantage having Coach Thompson around," Porter said, referring to the father. "It's so great that he and others around the program help us so much and teach us so much. We are always ready to listen to him."
The elder Thompson said his half of the father-son combination doesn't matter to him.
"As his father this is significant to me," he said. "Everything he accomplishes means an awful lot to me and makes me proud. I don't think as much as me winning than as him. With me it was such a job.
"He's a modest person. He wouldn't feel any accomplishment if he was successful and the team wasn't. I think of him more as an individual than he does himself and I feel good about that."
John Thompson won six Big East tournaments, one behind Calhoun's record. His son had one (2007) and his team starts play in this year's tournament Thursday as the No. 1 seed.
JaKarr Sampson became the second straight St. John's player to be selected Rookie of the Year. The 6-8 forward is the conference's top freshman scorer (14.9) and rebounder (6.6). He follows Moe Harkless as rookie of the year.
"The Big East Rookie of the Year award was one of the individual goals I set for myself," Sampson said. "This is a big moment for me. I'm proud of myself for achieving my goal."
Sampson becomes the second straight St. John's player to earn Big East rookie honors and the third overall. Harkless took home the league's top freshman honor in 2011-12, while David Russell earned the award in 1979-80.
St. John's coach Steve Lavin said Sampson "probably has as much enthusiasm as any player I've coached. Energy is one of his gifts, he brings electricity and energy to the game, that separates or distinguishes him from other players."