To fill roster spots on a team that would return only three players from last season, Chris Mullin and his new St. John's staff knew that they would have to look just about anywhere for talent. And that search obviously has not been limited to within the United States border.
Freshman guard Federico Mussini may be the crown jewel of that international search. The 19-year-old out of Reggio Emilia, Italy committed to Mullin and St. John's back in June, and already he's shown the potential to be an integral piece of this year's young team.
How He Got Here
Mussini's path to college basketball has been anything but average. The Italian prospect already has a decent amount of experience in his home country, and has already participated for Italy in a number of international competitions.
He was named to the All-Tournament team at the 2012 U16 European Championships, and followed that up with another stellar performance two years later at the U18 Championships. At the U18 tournament in 2014, he led all scorers with an average of 22.6 points per game and also recorded 2.1 assists per game.
Long considered one of the top international prospects, it was up in air for a while as to whether or not Mussini would even come to America and play college ball. He was reportedly offered a five-year contract by his hometown Italian team, Reggio Emilia, in December 2014 after he expressed interest in playing college basketball overseas.
Mussini would eventually receive interest from St. John's, Gonzaga, Virginia and Davidson, although his final college decision would come down to the Red Storm and Bulldogs.
Eventually on June 29, Mussini would decide to come to Queens and play for the Red Storm. "I selected St. John's most of all because of coach Mullin and the entire coaching staff," he said upon announcing his commitment.
"I think coach Mullin will help me to develop my game thanks to his experience from a Hall of Fame career. I believe that this staff can take me to another level."
What He Brings to the Table
At 6'1" and 154 pounds Mussini has the typical build of a point guard. Luckily he possesses exceptional court vision and can knock down 3-point shots at an impressive clip. Limited to just 18.3 minutes per game for Reggio Emilia in Italian competition last season, he wasn't able to showcase these skills back at home.
However since coming to St. John's, Red Storm fans have already gotten a glimpse of what he can do. In Saturday's Red and White Scrimmage he dished out eight assists, which was tied with Marcus Lovett for the game high, along with scoring 18 points.
Although he shot just 2-11 from 3-point range, St. John's fans can expect better shooting performances from Mussini as the season gets going.
Where He Fits In
Mussini can expect to see a decent share of playing time in 2014-15, as he should compete with fellow freshman Marcus Lovett for the starting point guard position. Whether he starts or not, Red Storm fans can expect to see a large dose of Mussini this season in the St. John's backcourt.
"Federico is a crafty guard who will be an important piece to our roster," said Mullin back in late June. "His team-first mentality and unselfish approach to the game are exactly what we strive for as a program."