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St. John's offers coaching job to team legend Chris Mullin

HOUSTON — St. John’s is reaching into its glorious past in the hopes of building a successful future.

Multiple sources confirmed to the Daily News that the university has offered its vacant head men’s basketball coaching position to Chris Mullin, the best player in the

history of the program.

Two sources said Mullin has yet to accept the offer, but very well could. A third source said that one factor is that Mullin and his wife have two kids who are still attending high school in California, where he works for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.

Still, one source told the Daily News, that Mullin “seems pretty confident that this is something he can do very well at. I could easily see him back at St. John’s.”

CBSSports.com was first to report the offer.

Mullin is the program’s all-time leading scorer with 2,440 points and was a three-time Big East Player of the Year, his senior season coming in 1984-85 when he led Lou Carnesecca’s team to the Final Four. He’s also the most popular player in team history. Thirty years later, spectators can be seen wearing his No. 20 uniform jersey at home games. According to an administration source, the suggestion to offer the job to Mullin “got Looie’s blessing.”

The greatest player in St. John's history, Chris Mullin scored 2,440 points for the Red Storm.UPI

The greatest player in St. John’s history, Chris Mullin scored 2,440 points for the Red Storm.

Mullin, a Kings adviser and a 2011 inductee to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, was reached on Friday by the Daily News and when asked if the job would interest him, he replied, “not right now.”

But the two sources told The News in recent days that his he has told members of the St. John’s basketball family, including former players, that the job would interest him. Conversations between Mullin and the administration, ones that may initially have been informal and pre-dated Steve Lavin’s Friday dismissal, heated up the last two days.

Two sources told The News over the weekend that Mullin has made calls to current college coaches who worked in the NBA to gauge exactly what he’d be getting into. Mullin hasn’t been around the college game, except as an evaluator, for three decades. He is said to already be lining up a potential staff that’s rich on college experience and runs deep with New York roots, so he’d be able to jump into recruiting as soon as he takes the job, if he does.

Lavin had one year left on his contract when first-year president Conrado (Bobby) Gempesaw told him Friday that he would be replaced after five seasons. Lavin went 81-55, but was 0-2 in two NCAA Tournaments, 1-2 in two NITs and 1-5 in five Big East tournaments.

Mullin spent parts of nine seasons in the Golden State Warriors front office, the last five as general manager. His connections in the NBA could be a huge drawing card for recruits.

One source said that sophomore guard Rysheed Jordan and junior center Chris Obekpa, who were thought to be on their way out of the program following Friday’s move to oust Lavin, are strongly considering returning.

Mullin was inducted into the school’s athletics Hall of Fame in February. Before the ceremony he spoke with the Daily News and said, “St. John’s is a brand name and a legendary program” adding that he believed it could return to the heights it hit when he was a player.

“You have to find those kids that want to stay home and be part of something. New York should be a great selling point,” Mullin told The News then. “Just take a look at everyone from All-Star Weekend. It didn’t matter where they came from, they all wanted the chance to play in New York.

“Maybe it’s me and because I am from there, but I went through it and there is nothing better than being successful in New York.”

He added that he believes the makings of great program can be found in the area.

“I still believe it is there in New York. Whether a kid preps out of town or not, the key is the kid with New York roots,” he said. “There are plenty of players. The ones that see it would be something to win in New York need to recognize St. John’s as a place to do it.” 

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