St. John's associate head coach Mike Dunlap has accepted the position as Charlotte Bobcats head coach, as was reported on Monday evening.
Dunlap, who has served on Steve Lavin's staff at St. John's for two years, is a skilled tactician and talent developer. Somewhat surprisingly, he will join Moe Harkless as the second member of the Red Storm program to jump to the NBA following last year's 13-19 campaign.
Having served as the Johnnies' stand-in head coach throughout most of the 2011-12 season, Dunlap has undoubtedly added to what was already an impressive resume. His experience at both the professional and collegiate level as a head coach and alongside well regarded coaches such as Lavin, Lute Olson and George Karl prove that Dunlap is ready to make the next step.
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Known as primarily an X's and O's strategist, the 54 year-old Dunlap has spent much of his coaching career behind the scenes - serving as the backbone for young players' gradual development on the practice floor and providing keen in-game adjustments.
When Lavin was hired at St. John's two years ago, he immediately sought to build what he deemed a "dream staff." After bringing assistants Rico Hines and Tony Chiles aboard, it took a while for the rest of the staff to take form. But, after weeks of persistence and perhaps with a stroke of luck, Lavin got his man. Mike Dunlap was coming from the west coast to New York.
Throughout St. John's run to the NCAA Tournament in 2011, the recurring image of Dunlap was he on his stool at the end of the bench, constantly scribbling on his yellow notepad. When he'd realize something needed to be changed, Dunlap would stroll to Lavin, give a quick whisper, and the point was taken. He was trusted more than anyone.
Now, Dunlap has accepted his first head coaching gig at any level higher than Division II, where he coached at Metro State in Denver. He'll take over a team in the Charlotte Bobcats, who had been previously coached by Paul Silas, that set a record in 2012 for the lowest winning percentage in NBA history with a woeful 7-59 record.
But Michael Jordan's intentions are crystal clear. With a young team headlined by former Connecticut guard Kemba Walker and geared with the second overall pick in June 28th's NBA Draft, the Bobcats are certainly in need of a leader who will teach young athletes how to get better.
"The Johnnies basketball family is ecstatic for Coach Dunlap's opportunity. Mike's selection as the Charlotte Bobcats' head coach is a well-deserved honor," mentioned Steve Lavin in a statement. "To make the unprecedented jump from college assistant to NBA head coach is a testmament to both Mike's as a teacher and our basketball program's marked improvement over the past 27 months."
It had been reported as recently as Monday night (just before the reports of Dunlap's hiring) that the Bobcats were favoring former Missouri coach Quin Snyder to be their man. Former Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan and current Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw had also been considered. Dunlap's name had been brought up as a candidate for the job in early May, but talks had simmered in recent days.
Having spent time around Dunlap his past season, it is clear that he is at least worthy of receiving a chance to prove himself at the next level. As a well-spoken and respectful man who undoubtedly knows what he is preaching, it comes as no surprise that he impressed Charlotte during the interview process.
St. John's will now need to turn elsewhere for a second-hand man to Steve Lavin. Will they look externally or will one of their current assistants make a step up? Will Lavin look more for a skillful recruiter or a strong basketball engineer? Names such as former Manhattan coach Barry Rohrssen, who was considered for the job two years ago, will certainly be tossed around.
The Rumble will have more on this story as more information develops.