File photo of former St. John's star Chris Mullin. (April...

File photo of former St. John's star Chris Mullin. (April 22, 2004) Credit: KRT

Chris Mullin always has had a good feeling for the history of St. John's basketball. He knew all about it before he enrolled because he grew up 12 miles from campus. Then he said he felt like he had played for Joe Lapchick because Lou Carnesecca always spoke about the former coach.

Now that Mullin is one of the greatest parts of that history -- he is doing a two-day stop at the school in between two Hall of Fame inductions -- he is pleased about the team's present and its future. He liked what he saw from the Red Storm last year.

"I felt good for Coach Lav," he said, referring to Steve Lavin, "and I felt good for the guys playing, who had struggled a little bit. They really bonded well as a team. I was happy. I was really happy."

This is quite a happy time for Mullin and his family, and his St. John's family. He was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in August, with Carnesecca introducing him. Next month, he will be enshrined in the College Basketball Hall of Fame for his stellar career in Jamaica. "He is the best player who ever played at St. John's," said Mel Davis, who also starred at the school and played in the NBA.

Mullin is happy to reminisce, as he did with other alumni at a campus reception Wednesday night and will do at a St. John's function in Manhattan Thursday night. Carnesecca remembered seeing talent in a 12-year-old Mullin and seeing more of it when the kid played a high school game in the gym that is now called Carnesecca Arena. "Little did I know that this 6-foot kid was going to be a 6-foot-7 kid. He kept all the skills," the Hall of Fame coach said.

"I remember that exact encounter," Mullin said Wednesday night. "I was playing for Power Memorial, we had won the freshman championship and I was walking across that bridge. He just came up and said hi and 'You're going to play for me someday.' "

Mullin led an ensemble to the Final Four in 1985. "They were special," Carnesecca said. "I've always said my mother could have coached that team."

The new Hall of Famer, now an analyst for ESPN, said that the skilled players that Lavin has recruited made the right choice, and not an easy one. "I remember being booed at home," he said. "That good old college try is not always going to make it. I think it makes you better, it makes you tougher. I think the one thing that these guys can embrace is history."


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