The final home game of a college basketball team's season -- Senior Day -- comes with certain widespread customs. Programs across the country have pregame or postgame ceremonies with players and their families; fans get a chance to say goodbye, and thank you. Some coaches go further, emptying their benches at the start of the game, making sure all of their seniors -- from stars to walk-ons -- get on the floor.
Georgetown's Senior Day came with a twist. This week, coach John Thompson III gathered his players after practice and told them "he didn’t believe in the standard tradition of starting seniors in their final home game and that all of the Hoyas seniors already had started at some point this season, anyway," the Washington Post reported:
And then the coach paused and turned to Tyler Adams.
“But we’re going to make an exception for Tyler,” Thompson said. “You’re starting.”
Adams is a senior of a different type. When Thompson recruited him alongside former star Otto Porter in 2011, he thought Adams would develop into the next great Georgetown center. Instead, when the Mississippi native arrived on campus, an irregular heartbeat he had lived with since age 6 suddenly began to cause him problems -- his heart would not beat fast enough during serious exercise, Georgetown doctors found.
After at least one attempt at a medical compromise, including a pacemaker implant, Adams suffered chest pains during a practice. He was diagnosed with arrhythmia, and hasn't taken the court since 2011.
Adams has spent his Georgetown career on a medical waiver. He was allowed to remain with the team, and earn his degree, without counting against the Hoyas' scholarship limit. By all accounts, he has dealt with what could have been a defining setback with aplomb -- Thompson often referring to him as an assistant coach.
And so, on Saturday afternoon, Adams made his first start for the Hoyas, a tear rolling down his cheek as he was introduced during the starting lineups.
And then, thanks to an incredible show of sportsmanship by Seton Hall, Adams scored on a dunk moments after Georgetown won the opening tip and SHU defenders backed off. Just total class all around.
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After the dunk, the Hoyas immediately fouled so that Adams could exit to a standing ovation from the Verizon Center crowd.