Former all-time leading scorer George Thompson dies at 74

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George Thompson held the Marquette men’s basketball all-time leading scorer record for 40 years. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Former Marquette men’s basketball all-time leading scorer George Thompson died Wednesday from complications of diabetes at age 74, the school announced.

“George’s name is synonymous with Marquette Basketball,” Vice President & Director of Athletics Bill Scholl said in a statement. “He was part of the foundation our program was built on and his career speaks for itself. He had a lasting impact on our University and we mourn the loss with our entire Marquette family.”

Thompson was the first prominent recruit from New York for the legendary Marquette head coach Al McGuire. Thompson grew up in Brooklyn, the neighboring borough of McGuire’s native Queens.

During Thompson’s three years on McGuire’s varsity team, as the NCAA did not allow first-years on varsity until 1972, the then-Warriors went 68-20 overall.

After his career at Marquette, Thompson held  the program record in field goals (656) and free throws (457) while leading the team in scoring over the course of his final two seasons.

During his senior season, Thompson helped lead the 1968-69 team to a 24-5 overall record and a Top 15 ranking finish in the Associated Press Poll. That season he earned All-American honors, averaging 20.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.

“George is really the one who got everything started at Marquette,” Marquette head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “There aren’t words that can express how important he was to this program. The reverence with which former players and fans alike speak of George is second to none. We’ve lost a true legend.”

When he concluded his collegiate career, Thompson scored 1,773 points becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer, a record that he held for 40 years.

Thompson was drafted in the 5th round of the 1969 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics but started his professional career with the Pittsburg Pipers in the American Basketball Association. He was a ABA All-Star three times during his five seasons in the league, two of which came with the Memphis Tams.

The 6-foot-2 guard, then became the first Marquette player to suit up for the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1974-75 season.

Although known for his success on the basketball court and the football program being dismantled for nine-years, Thompson was the last Marquette draft pick in the NFL/AFL Draft. He was was selected in the 15th round by the Baltimore Colts in 1969.

He was inducted into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001, the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013, the Brooklyn New York Hall of Fame in 2016 and the Marquette M Club Hall of Fame in 1980.

Thompson’s legacy continues to live on at Marquette and in Wisconsin as his No. 24 jersey hangs in the rafters at Fiserv Forum.

This article was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at john.leuzzi@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU.