Last season, much was made of touted recruit Emmanuel Mudiay's decision to spurn the school he planned on attending (SMU) in favor of a professional contract overseas. The same sort of attention is not always given to players that go in the opposite direction, leaving the professional circuit abroad in favor of a college campus. Federico Mussini will be doing just that this season when he suits up for the St. John's Red Storm.
Mussini, who will be 19 when he records his first minute with the Johnnies, has experience in the Italian pro ranks. He had some sparse playing time in 2013 and 2014, but started to gain some traction last season, when he served as a backup point guard for Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia. Here are some highlights to give you an idea of what he can do.
However, Mussini didn't grab the attention of schools like St. John's and the litany of others he turned away (namely Providence, Gonzaga and Virginia) by picking up a few minutes off the bench for an Italian club.
Where he really highlighted his skill was in the international circuit. Beginning with stellar play for the Under-16 Italian national team in 2012, Mussini has gotten better and better at each level. He carried the Italy U18 national team to the championship of the Albert Schweitzer Tournament in 2014 and then piled up 22.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game, while shooting 42.9% from beyond the arc during the 2014 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship.
He further bolstered his resume this spring by helping the World Select team defeat the USA Select squad, 103-101, in the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Oregon. He scored nine points and handed out three assists in the win and also faced a number of notable recruits in the contest, including Villanova's Jalen Brunson.
Playing professionally obviously had its benefit for Mussini, but he sees the value in playing at the college level, especially under Mullin.
"I am very excited to be a Johnny," said Mussini St. John's' announcement of his signing. "I selected St. John’s most of all because of Coach Mullin and the entire coaching staff. 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."
With the big holes left in the backcourt by the losses of D'Angelo Harrison and Rysheed Jordan, the Red Storm are in need of bodies. Players like Malik Ellison and Marcus LoVett may end up being the more important parts of the rotation, but Mussini has the chance to be a key component as well, especially with his skill in shooting from long distance.
St. John's will be in desperate need of that skill. Of the 124 triples made by the Red Storm last season, only 24 were made by players still on the roster. St. John's also ranked only 155th in the country in 3-point shooting percentage (.348).
While his shooting fills a major need for the team, his 6-foot-1 frame and his ability to run an offense and make plays with the ball in his hands made him an attractive target for Mullin.
"Federico is a crafty guard who will be an important piece to our roster," said Mullin. "Federico handles the ball well, he can score in a variety of ways and has playmaking skills that will continue to develop as he works with our coaching staff. His team-first mentality and unselfish approach to the game are exactly what we strive for as a program."