Mussini impressing with more than shooting touch

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Federico Mussini has already made a positive first impression at St. John’s with his strong outside shooting display at the program’s annual Tipoff event.

“So far it has been the shooting,” the 6-foot-1 freshman point guard said. “We only did the scrimmage and everybody came to me and said, ‘Oh, you are a good shooter.’ ”

While the Italian import, who will share time at the point guard spot with classmate Marcus LoVett, has the potential to be the best shooter the Red Storm has had in recent years, he is far from a one-dimensional player. Senior Felix Balamou raved about Mussini’s passing, basketball IQ and court vision.

“I see the combination of shooting, driving by someone and smarts,” Balamaou said. “It’s hard to see players like that who have a little bit of everything.”

Mussini’s maturity beyond his years comes from his basketball upbringing in Italy. He began playing the game on the playground of Reggio Emilia, a city of 170,000 in the northern portion of the country. Mussini played for the Italian Under-16 and 18 national teams. The the U18 team was named to the 2014 European Championships All-Tournament team after averaging a tournament-high 22.6 point per game and shooting 42.9 percent from long distance to go with 4.0 rebounds.

Last season Mussini played for Pallacanestro Reggiana of the Italian League’s first division. He averaged 8.2 points over 10 games at the 2015 EuroCup. That experience competing with older players has left him well prepared for his first collegiate season in the United States.

“Anytime you play against older and more mentally mature players it helps,” St. John’s coach Chris Mullin said. “You get some of their habits. You learn some of their tricks He does not got overwhelmed by anything. He is a really smart kid. He really absorbs everything we give him.”

Mussini, who was originally recruited to play for former coach Steve Lavin and his staff, said it was a difficult to leave a professional career in Europe behind. He did so because he saw playing in New York City for someone with Mullin’s credentials as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“He is maybe the biggest reason why I am here,” he said. “I think he is going to lead us to be a great team. I can learn a lot of things from him because he is one of the best players ever.”

While Mussini hasn’t made an attempt to beat Mullin in a shooting contest, he has been one of the closest so far to completing the drill of making three-consecutive treys from five different spots in 90 seconds.

Mussini also saw coming to St. John’s as a chance to play the American brand of basketball. He was inspired by the games of Stephen Curry, Jason William and Allen Iverson.

Mussini smiled when asked if he played with the same flare, saying he didn’t know.

“I would like to,” Mussini said. “Because they are the players what inspired me so. That is where I want to reach.”

Posted 12:00 am, November 2, 2015
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