At a time when many other schools have pursued obvious choices for their coaching vacancies, St. John's is swinging for the fences.
The New York Daily News reported Monday the school has reached an agreement with former NBA all-star and Johnnies alum Chris Mullin, a boom-or-bust hire if ever there was one.
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Mullin is a huge risk for St. John's simply because he has never coached at any level, nor does he have any experience recruiting. He has worked as an ESPN analyst and in the front offices of the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors since his playing career ended in 2001.
The lack of coaching and recruiting experience makes it imperative that Mullin hires a staff that can bolster him in those two areas.
At least one assistant with head coaching experience would seem to be a must. Mullin would also benefit from assistants who have ties to New York-New Jersey area high schools and AAU programs and the elite New England prep schools.
The upside to hiring Mullin is his NBA ties and storied history at St. John's provide a built-in sales pitch both to alumni, donors and recruits.
The Brooklyn native is a former three-time Big East player of the year at St. John's who led the Johnnies to a 31-4 record and a Final Four berth as a senior in 1985. He was the seventh pick of the 1985 NBA draft, made five NBA all-star teams and was a member of the original Dream Team in 1992.
Mullin takes over a St. John's program that has been relevant in fits and starts in recent years. Steve Lavin ended the program's nine-year NCAA tournament drought in 2011, recruited the likes of Maurice Harkless, JaKarr Sampson and Rysheed Jordan to St. Johns and he reached the NCAA tournament a second time this month. He also went 2-8 in the postseason at St. John's, never won an NCAA tournament game and didn't recruit as well late in his tenure as he did early in it.
The history of coaching hires like this one is as mixed as you'd expect.
Fred Hoiberg has built Iowa State into a perennial NCAA tournament team despite having no coaching experience when he returned to his alma mater in 2010. On the other hand, Clyde Drexler was a total flop in two seasons at the University of Houston, going 19-37 before resigning in 2000.
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