Introducing Bryan Mullins. Future Celtic?

2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches v Cancer Day 1
Could Bryan Mullins be making another appearance at Madison Garden, this time in a NBA uni?

Needless to say, fans of the Boston Celtics must have felt clueless when Insider Chad Ford pegged the C's as drafting Southern Illinois point guard Bryan Mullins with the 58th pick in the NBA Draft. I know I was a bit stunned myself.

Fear not, Celtics fans, for I can shine some light on this mystery known as Mr. Mullins.

As the Daily Egyptian's basketball beat writer, I can tell you that no one worked harder in practice and on game day than Bryan Mullins. He would not be outhustled or outworked by anyone. Yes, that includes you Tyler Hansbrough.

He was the pass-first point guard every Saluki detractor heckled and booed to their lungs content, but quietly wished he was on their side.

And there is no denying that Mullins improved in every facet of the game. (You'll read that in the scouting report I whipped up below.) It's a rarity in this day of basketball where a player improves his offensive game while still being a terror on the defensive end.

Most importantly, Mullins imposed his will on his teammates. I remember an interview with then-freshman Kevin Dillard and I asked him what he had learned from playing with Mullins on game day and against Mullins in practice. It came down to two things: Composure and a will to win. Both of which would have been Mullins' major at SIU had it not been for that 4.0 GPA in finance.

If Stephon Marbury had Mullins' wits and heart, he would be a Hall Of Fame caliber point guard. Instead, he's just a headcase.

Sure, it looks like a project now, but you can't teach the intangibles Mullins has.

And after diving through several of the Celtics' message boards and knowing that Mullins is, at times, hidden in the relative obscurity that is Southern Illinois University Carbondale, I decided to blog up a scouting report on one of the all-time great Salukis.

Ready? Let's do this.

Mullins was a four-year starter as a Saluki, even though he started his first few games on the bench as juniors Jamaal Tatum, Tony Young and Mike Dale garnered starting roles. Dale struggled early (and often) for SIU and his spot was handed to Mullins, a pure point guard. Eventually, Dale disappeared into relative obscurity and is now one of my favorite punchlines over at SalukiTalk.

As a freshman, Mullins was named the Missouri Valley Conference's Freshman of the Year, placed on the All Newcomer Team and All-Defensive Team. Those are nice titles to have, but if anyone ever earned it, it was the Downers Grove, Ill., native.

B-Mull was a flat out crook as he registered a SIU single-season record 94 thefts (including a MVC record 8 in one game against arch-rival Creighton), good enough for a 2.85 steal per game average ... which ranked 7th in the nation.

Full of moxie and poise, Mullins helped lead the Salukis to their first MVC Tournament championship since 1995.

There was no sophomore slump for Mullins, who earned All-Defensive Team honors again to go along with being named to the All-Academic squad. Much to the chagrin of Valley foes everywhere, Mullins improved his offensive skillset adding a long-range jump shot as his 3-point percentage went up nearly seven percentage points from 30 percent to 36.8 percent and his free-throw percentage went up from 60.98 percent to 74.8 percent.

With Tatum and Young in the backcourt, and the emerging frontcourt of Randal Falker and Matt Shaw, Mullins' offensive contributions meant that no opposing player could rest on defense. As a result, SIU won 29 games that season, and Mr. Mullins highlighted a pair of unforgettable Saluki wins.

Mullins hit a running, left-handed 10-foot jump shot with 4.1 seconds left to give the Salukis a win against Creighton, etching his name among great Bluejay killers in SIU history.

B-Mull was an instrumental force in Southern's Sweet 16 run, and will always be remembered for this killer crossover against Kansas' Mario Chalmers, who happens to be currently employed by the NBA's Miami Heat.

As a junior, Mullins was hampered by a stress fracture, yet he had another solid season donning the maroon and white. He won his first MVC Defensive Player of the Year award, while continuing to improve his game on the offensive end as he nailed 48 percent of his 3-point shots. And for everyone keeping score at home, it was Mullins who got the honor of being interviewed by Erin Andrews on ESPN's GameDay -- which was the first such episode to be hosted by a "mid-major" school.

Senior year came around and, once again, Mullins fell victim to the injury bug. In an injury-shortened season, he still managed to win the Valley's Defensive POY award, cementing his legacy among the great MVC defenders. When on he was on the court, Mullins averaged 9.3 points, 5.6 assists and 2 steals per game. His field goal percentage was a career best 42 percent while shooting the three at a 43 perecent clip. Mullins surpassed Wayne Abrams' school assist record and became one of only two players in the Valley's history to record 500 assists and 250 steals.

And if you don't know, now ya' know.

(An aside: Even if Mullins isn't picked up by a NBA squad via draft of free agency, this is just the buzz that my alma mater and the Saluki basketball program needed. So, if anything, thanks Chad Ford. Forget about that stuff I said earlier about that whole failure of a grade you gave the Pistons for taking Darko.)

Mullins Works Out For Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics
[Daily Egyptian]
Update: Ford's Mock Has C's Taking Mullins [Celtics Hub]
BMull To The Bulls? [Saluki Talk]


Unknown said...

I love waking up, checkin twitter to see and excellent article by the best sports writer I know.