Mel Evans, File, Associated Press
FILE-This Feb 14, 2012 file photo shows St. John's assistant coach Mike Dunlap shouting to his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Newark, N.J., Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012. A person familiar with the decision says the Charlotte Bobcats have hired Dunlap to be their new head coach. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Monday June 18, 2012, because an official announcement was still being planned for the next two days. The Charlotte Observer first reported the news.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — St. John’s University assistant coach Mike Dunlap is the next Charlotte Bobcats coach, McClatchy Newspapers has learned.

Dunlap, 54, is a former Denver Nuggets assistant who was acting head coach this season at St. John’s while Steve Lavin was recovering from prostate cancer surgery.

A source familiar with the process said Dunlap was offered the job Monday night, after interviewing in Charlotte with owner Michael Jordan, Vice Chairman Curtis Polk, basketball operations President Rod Higgins and general manager Rich Cho. He has accepted.

Dunlap was one of 10 candidates interviewed since the Bobcats opened this search May 8, but the only one offered the job, the source confirmed. Dunlap will replace Paul Silas, who was not given a new contract following the season.

So who is Dunlap and why was he hired as fifth coach in the Bobcats’ nine-year existence?

McClatchy Newspapers’ source, who asked for anonymity because Dunlap’s hire isn’t official, said Dunlap impressed the front office with his high energy and collaborative approach. Also, he wants to run an up-tempo offense and attacking defense that figures to fit some of the Bobcats’ younger personnel.

Dunlap has spent most of his career at the college level, working for, among others, Lute Olson in Arizona. He essentially ran the St. John’s program last season, both game days and off days, while Lavin recovered from surgery.

There were far more prominent candidates, such as Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and former SuperSonics and Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan. Various media reports, including one by the Observer, had the Bobcats narrowing their finalists to Sloan, Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw and Los Angeles Lakers assistant Quin Snyder. Sloan removed his name from consideration last week, before a decision was made.

Nuggets coach George Karl spoke glowingly of Dunlap in comments quoted this season on the St. John’s athletic department web site.

“Mike Dunlap absolutely elevates every player and team he comes in contact with,’’ Karl said. “He takes you from good to great. Name every top-level, elite coach in the game – the only difference between Mike and them is their addresses. … There is absolutely no one better.’’

Before joining Karl’s staff, Dunlap was a Division II head coach at Metropolitan State College, also in Denver. He coached that program to two national championships and nine straight appearances in that level’s NCAA tournament.

Dunlap is married with three children.


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