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.
Former St. John’s great Mark Jackson says Rick Pitino is a ‘can’t miss hire’
By ADAM ZAGORIA
Former St. John’s great Mark Jackson is a big fan of the Rick Pitino hire at St. John’s.
“I think it’s an incredible hire, a can’t miss hire,” Jackson said Tuesday on a conference call ahead of the NBA Finals, which he will be broadcasting for a 15th year.
“You’re talking about one of the great, not college coaches, but one of the great coaches in the history of basketball, in the history of sports,” added Jackson, who played point guard with Pitino’s Knicks in the 1980s. “An incredible mind, an incredible job to impact and spark change. To me as a former St. John’s basketball player, I’m thrilled with what’s going on right now and what’s happening.”
“Retooled, got fresh talent, I”m sure he’ll have them fired up and geared and looking forward to not just one but many NCAA runs and the opportunity to compete for it all. It’s a thrilling time for St. John’s people.”
Since being hired at St. John’s, Pitino, 70, has added 11 new players, including 10 transfers. A Naismith Hall of Famer who has led three programs to the Final Four, Pitino will join a loaded Big East that features Dan Hurley and newly-minted NCAA champion UConn, along with a slew of other elite coaches.
Jeff Van Gundy, who will broadcast the NBA Finals with Jackson and Mike Breen, worked for Pitino at Providence and is a big fan of the hire, too, although he also said St. John’s should pay former coach Mike Anderson “what he’s owed.”
“There’s no doubt about his coaching greatness,” he said. “I think like Deion Sanders at Colorado, the complete roster overhaul is unique and these are certainly interesting times in college athletes, but coach Pitino has always figured it out and I have no doubts he’ll figure this out.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, 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.