One of Georgetown's legendary athletic figures, Tom O'Keefe was a part of nearly two decades of Hoya basketball, from player to assistant to head coach.
O'Keefe attended St. Peter's Prep, alma mater of nearly two dozen Georgetown players between 1940 and 1969. He committed to attend Notre Dame in 1945 to play under Elmer Ripley, and when Ripley left for Georgetown in the fall of 1946, O'Keefe followed along. At first a backup behind such names as Danny Kraus, Ray Corley, and Miggs Reilly, O'Keefe held his own, combining his high school experience with that of his skill learned under Ripely as a freshman. He averaged 5.4 points per game as a sophomore.
In 1947-48, O'Keefe continued in a three guard rotation with Kraus and Corley. Following Andy Kostecka's dismissal from the team in February, 1948, O'Keefe stepped up the scoring, scoring 50 over a three game stretch and nine double figure games at season's, including 14 versus Penn State and 20 versus George Washington. At season's end, O'Keefe nosed past Corley for the 1948 scoring crown.
O'Keefe and Corley were the two stars of the 1948-49 campaign, a season which saw the Hoyas drop eight of ten in Elmer Ripley's last campaign on the Hilltop. O'Keefe took a second scoring title in his senior season, highlighted by a 22 point effort against the New York Athletic Club. Mindful of Georgetown's inexperience following the 1949 season, a hopeful Georgetown athletic staff petitioned the NCAA to allow O'Keefe an unprecedented fourth season. Freshman ineligibility had been restored in 1947 after a four year break during World War II, so Georgetown proposed that O'Keefe's 1946-47 season was covered under the freshman year waiver. The NCAA granted O'Keefe a fourth year of eligibility for 1949-50 and he proceeded to redefine the Georgetown record books.
With a young, undersized team under Georgetown and St. Peter's prep alumnus Buddy O'Grady, O'Keefe led the Hoyas with double-figure scoring in 21 of its 24 games. O'Keefe's 10 for 15 shooting helped upset Penn State early in the season, and a career high was reached by scoring 23 in a 75-73 upset at Rutgers. The Rutgers game marked the beginning of a considerable slide for the Hoyas, dropping seven of nine to finish 12-12, but O'Keefe remained its most consistent scorer. He became the first three time scoring champ in 15 years, and was selected to play alongside Bob Cousy in the East-West All Star Game.
Tom O'Keefe spent a year in the NBA with the NBA's Washington Capitols before joining the Army and coaching teams at Ft. Myer. Following a term as head coach at Gonzaga, O"Keefe coached the freshman team with a combined 41-15 record from 1957 through 1960. In 1960, he was named head coach, leading the Hoyas to 82 wins in six seasons, narrowly missing the post-season in 1965 and 1966.
Tom O'Keefe not only coached the Hoyas, he did so while holding a full time job, limiting the time and commitment available to recruit. At the time, the University paid coaches so little that O'Keefe took a second job to pay the bills; following his resignation, Georgetown thereafter committed to hiring full time coaches for the basketball team.
Tom O'Keefe ended his Georgetown career with 1,018 points, the first Georgetown player to pass the 1,000 point mark. His scoring record remains a bellwether for the classic era of Georgetown basketball.