Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Bill Walton says top players ‘will flock’ to play for Mullin at St. John’s
St. John’s lost to No. 13 Indiana, 83-73, on Tuesday at the Maui Invitational, but that didn’t stop Bill Walton from praising first-year head coach Chris Mullin and painting a rosy picture of the future.
“As soon as he gets all the great players that are going to flock to St. John’s because of Chris Mullin, because of New York, because of this phenomenal University and the opportunities they’re going to have there, he’s going to sit back like Phil Jackson and say, ‘Bring me a high chair and a nice cold drink,'” Walton said on the ESPN2 broadcast on Monday.
Walton, who at times wore sunglasses with his black T-shirt and lei on the broadcast, clearly has great admiration and respect for Mullin, his fellow former NBA star who is coaching the Maui games in shorts and sneakers.
“Who wouldn’t want to play for Mullin?” Walton asked. “The guy’s as fine a guy as you can possibly find. He’s been married to for 24 years to his college sweetheart Liz, she’s a big music fan. And they’ve got four angelic children. That’s what you’re looking for, a beacon of hope, a shining star and a reason to believe that tomorrow’s going to be better.”
At the moment, St. John’s only has one signee in the Class of 2016 — Brooklyn Thomas Jefferson guard Shamorie Ponds. But the Red Storm are hoping to make a splash in the spring by landing some combination of Richard Freudenberg, Bashir Ahmed, Rawle Alkins and Thon Maker.
Walton added that New York City players watching these games at home would say to themselves, “Hey, I see a future there for me.”
For the moment, the young Johnnies are struggling while being led by freshman point guard Federico Mussini (17 points) and 6-11 freshman big man Yankuba Sima (9 points, 7 rebounds).
“His two best players are Mussini and Sima and they’re both like teenagers, they’re basically young children,” Walton said. “Now Chris Mullin is realizing that he has to get it done.”
Ron Mvouika also had 17 points and 5 rebounds in the loss, while Felix Balamou posted 14 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assits.
Yogi Ferrell paced the Hoosiers with 22 points and freshman big man Thomas Bryant had 19.
Walton also said he hoped to see freshman point guard Marcus LoVett — who was not cleared by the NCAA and is also injured — out on the court soon.
“I sure hope that Marcus Lovett gets to play for the St. John’s Red Storm,” Walton said. “That guy’s got game and personality.”
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.