The St. John's program is beginning a transition from Steve Lavin to Chris Mullin and so far the results off the court have been very successful. The students, alumni and former players are rejuvenated and the highly talented high school players from the New York area are taking notice.
Mullin and his staff reeled in nine new players, working successfully on both the recruiting trail and the transfer market to add versatility, depth, experience and international talent. Zach Braziller of the New York Post sat down with the head man himself to gain some perspective on how this offseason will be the start of a new era in Queens.
Here are five takeaways from the excellent feature story on the Johnnies:
Mullin's recruiting style/Matt Abdelmassih and Barry 'Slice' Rohrssen
While Mullin doesn't like to "sell" recruits, his status as a Hall of Famer, calm demeanor, honesty and ability to give high school kids the opportunity to play under the brightest lights in the NCAA will resonate with young ball players.
Mullin surprisingly gave himself little credit for the 2015 recruiting class, saying he had a 'minimal' role even though the former front office member had plenty of experience trying to lure players in the NBA.
Matt Abdelmassih and Barry 'Slice' Rohrssen could be labeled as the MVPs of the summer as they came over from Iowa State and Kentucky respectively. The two assistants successfully installed an impressive group of student-athletes using their connections to reel in four-star forward Kassoum Yakwe, former Iowa State commit Darien Williams and four-star guard Marcus "Bright Lights" LoVett.
The fact that Mullin, Abdelmassih and Rohrssen were able to put together a nine-man class with limited time is outstanding and shows what this program is capable of as they continue to build relationships with recruits and their families.
Jordan's departure helped land Mussini
Rysheed Jordan had the potential to be a future NBA Draft selection but after learning his status academically, the Philadelphia native had to explore other professional options a year sooner than expected. That opened the door for Italy's very own, Frederico Mussini.
Braziller explains in his piece that Mussini was planning to attend an American college and play in the NCAA Tournament but if Jordan had not left, things would have been different.
Mussini certainly did not want to join a program where he wasn't going to play a lot of minutes, especially when he had a pro contract on the table in the Italian League.
Changing the culture
Under Lavin, the Johnnies failed to live up to expectations and talented players struggled to stay out of trouble off-the court. Sure, they reached the tournament for the first time since 2011 last season but the team had the potential to be in the top-25 the last two seasons and failed to consistently thrive in one of the best conferences in the country.
Meanwhile, Mullin is trying to develop a new atmosphere for the team and that was evident with the departures of Jordan and Chris Obekpa.
Braziller mentions that neither player "was comfortable with Mullin's demanding and rigorous schedule where discipline and accountability, not talent, is valued first."
This left the Red Storm with just three returnees (Felix Balamou, Christian Jones and Amar Alibegovic) but also gave Mullin the chance to re-start with his own players that are capable of fitting his style of play and his culture in the locker room.
He can still light it up
Apparently, three-star recruit Malik Ellison, who's dad Pervis played in the NBA, thought he could beat his new head coach in a shooting contest. Unfortunately for the freshman, Mullin was too good shooting the rock and the former Warrior has not lost to a single player on the roster.
"Maybe I'll lose on purpose just to make them feel better," Mullin said to the Post.
"It all starts with you."
Tariq Owens, who transferred from Tennessee, was Mullin's first addition to the St. John's program and he told the rising sophomore during a visit, that it all begins with him.
Owens' family is from Queens and he ended up committing to the Johnnies over schools like Minnesota, UCLA, North Carolina State and Marquette.
And even though Owens has to get stronger and must sit out the 2015-16 season, that got the ball rolling for what was a very interesting offseason.