By Joseph Staszewski
Chris Mullin has enjoyed a successful first two months as St. John’s men’s basketball coach, reloading a depleted roster. The real work begins soon as the former NBA All Star and executive hits the road for his first full summer of recruiting after getting a taste in April.
Mullin is ready and eager to get back at it.
“The grind, getting out there, I kind of like it,” he said. “I was surprised by the level of basketball. They’re talented. I was really impressed.”
He made sure to stress how helpful veteran recruiters and assistants Barry Rohrssen and Matt Adelmassih have been before participating in the “True Blue” Charity Softball Game at Yankee Stadium on June 3. The schedule and targeted players for July are mapped out and his coaches have helped him get in touch with the right people nationally. Mullin, who expects to add a third coach before July, said there are similarities to scouting in the NBA. It is just a longer wait for the hard work to pay off.
“If you have good feedback in the NBA you get a signature or you move to the next guy,” Mullin said. “It’s more of a constant process and staying on top of guys until they actually make their decision.”
His coaching philosophy is to play the best players, particularly at the guard spot—not just fill roles. Plenty of top kids made unofficial visits to St. John’s last weekend. According to reports, top city prospects Jose Alvarado (Christ the King), Sidney Wilson (St. Raymond) and Shamorie Ponds (Jefferson) were on campus, along with a host of other top players. Later in the week Mullin saw Raysheed Jordan, his best returning player, leave to pursue a professional career. He is in search of future top talent for the Johnnies.
“I would take a better player over position,” Mullin said. “Then it’s on me to figure out how to make it work,”
Mullin enjoyed a break from the grind to play for a good cause in the True Blue softball event. Proceeds from the event benefited the Silver Shield Foundation, the NYC PBA Widows’ and Children’s Fund, and the families of fallen NYPD officers Brian Moore, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. Mullin was part of the celebrity team of New York sports figures and CBS personalities that played short games against squads of New York City police officers. The event drew more than 17,000 spectators to The Bronx and held a special meaning for Mullin.
“You feel safe when the police are strong and they are supported by not only their administration, but by the community,” he said.
Mullin, who played baseball at Power Memorial Academy, said the last time he played softball was more than three decades ago on the concrete of Utica Avenue in Brooklyn. The rust didn’t show, as Mullin preformed solidly, starting the first game in centerfield.
“It’s very emotional having family and friends that are policemen,” he said. “It’s close to my heart and I think it’s wonderful that people are getting together and honoring them. The loss is what stays with you, but when people get together good things happen.”