Maurice Harkless and Mike Dunlap made the jump from St. John's to the NBA to continue their careers at the highest level. Harkless was drafted 15th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers, then traded to the Orlando Magic. Coach Dunlap was the surprise pick as head coach for the struggling Charlotte Bobcats.
In an NBA shortened season in 2011-2012, the Charlotte Bobcats won 7 games total. In the first month of the 2012-2013 season, head coach Dunlap has won 6 of his first 10 games, including a 5-2 home record.
He has done so well that in his short time he's gained his own forum on Bobcatsplanet.com called "Dunlapisms", a small collection of his quotes.
On the rotation of his team, Dunlap said, "how many guys play in 1st quarter? 10, because we're going to be tired."
No such thing as taking a breather unless you are on the bench for Coach Dunlap. No lazy play. If you are on the court, you don't stop moving.
"My first impression [of Dunlap] was that guys better be in shape coming into training camp," Kemba Walker said.
And though Kemba might be only 6'1", Dunlap pours confidence into his point guard saying, "you are big when you are small; in among the trees, make 'em pay."
Under Dunlap so far, Kemba Walker has looked like the Walker from his time at UConn. His scoring is up 6 points (18.8 per game) from last year and there is an increase in assists and steals of 2+ more per each stat.
With a rotation that averages 6'7" and a front court with an average height of 6'9", it's no wonder how the Bobcats rank 7th in the league with 43+ rebounds per game.
Dunlap uses a four man bench rotation nightly with Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions and Bismack Biyombo all getting 20+ minutes of play.
When Bobcats owner Michael Jordan hired Mike Dunlap, there were a lot of naysayers who were dumbfounded, set against the signing of the former Red Storm "X & O" expert. Now they are singing praises in his name while organizing a campaign to earn him Coach of the Year.
8 hours 47 minutes (without traffic) and 525 miles south of Charlotte, N.C., Maurice Harkless is asserting himself into the Orlando Magic rotation, earning his first career start Wednesday night against the Detroit Pistons.
In his start, Harkless saw 21 minutes of action scoring 7 points to go with 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and a block as well as a +4 in the +/- ratio.
Harkless didn't see much preseason time while with the Philadelphia 76ers, who he was drafted by, due to a hip flexor injury. He was then traded before the season began to the Orlando Magic as part of the three-team deal that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers and Andrew Bynum to the Sixers, a small, low-cost piece of a blockbuster.
Harkless wasn't available the first three games of the season and only started to get his game going against the Knicks last week scoring 10 points with 7 rebounds, four blocks, and a monster jam.
After the game, Harkless said he was moving too fast, and mentally he needed to slow the pace down a bit.
"When I'm out there trying to think too much, it takes away from how hard I can play. When I'm trying not to make mistakes and trying not to anything wrong, that's not good," said Harkless. "Playing off my instincts is what I usually do."
A week later against the Hawks, Harkless had another strong showing with 8 points and 8 boards.
As a rookie, confidence is always the first thing that is needed to get going, whether it's as a college player or an NBA player.
With the first month of the NBA season coming to a close, Harkless and Dunlap are steadily gaining notoriety in the NBA. St. John's hopes that more players make the successful leap into the NBA, making the program synonymous with "success."