By Gary Parrish
John Thompson III would've rather the fight in China been avoided. That's obvious, right? But the fight did happen -- you've read about it and seen it many times already, I'm sure -- and there's nothing anybody can do about it now. So Thompson has decided to use the incident as a positive, and he really thinks it might be exactly that.
"In a roundabout and undesired kind of way, the whole incident, the fight, really brought this group closer together quickly," Thompson said. "So big picture, it's not a bad thing at all."
Georgetown returned home from China last month.
Thompson reflected on the trip with CBSSports.com on Wednesday.
What Thompson learned: "This group has a willingness to compete and a willingness to win. And it's a versatile team -- much more versatile than we've been the past couple of years."
Who or what impressed Thompson: "I think the key part of the trip was just the introduction and acclimation and initiation of our freshmen. We have five freshman and we're going to need significant contributions from all of them, to tell you the truth. I was very pleased with how they competed, how they responded and how they learned. They all played really well. Collectively, their basketball IQ and competitive spirt is high."
What concerned Thompson: "Our inexperience. As much as I like this group, we're still an inexperienced team."
----- NOTES -----
- Like most coaches, Thompson is mostly spending this "contact" period on the road watching and meeting with prospects. But when I caught him on the phone Wednesday, he was actually walking into his office ... for a moment. "I'm going to be in here two hours," Thompson said. "Then it's back on the road."
- Georgetown, as Thompson pointed out, will rely heavily on a freshman class of Otto Porter, Greg Whittington, Tyler Adams, Mikael Hopkins and Jabril Trawick. Thompson said all of them -- except Adams, who was injured at the time but is now fine -- showed encouraging signs in China, and he didn't single anybody out. But when I asked about Porter specifically, here's what Thompson said: "Otto is outstanding. He's just a basketball player. He does everything on the court. He can score. He defends. He rebounds. He works hard."
- The country got to hear John Thompson Jr. -- Thompson III's legendary father -- tell his 9/11 story earlier this week, and most of us were blown away by it, by how close the former Georgetown coach came to dying in the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Among those not blown away was Thompson III. He heard that story 10 years ago. "I remember him trying to decide whether to travel that day," said Thompson III. "I'm just glad he wasn't stubborn about getting on that plane."