St. John's assistant Mike Dunlap was hired Monday as head coach by the Charlotte Bobcats, the school said in a statement released early Tuesday morning.
NBA sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard the Bobcats will make an official announcement Wednesday at a news conference in Charlotte.
Dunlap is a somewhat surprising hire because he has spent most of his career at the collegiate level, but he is highly regarded in NBA circles for his knowledge of the game.
A week ago, the Bobcats had narrowed their choices to Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan, Indiana assistant Brian Shaw and Lakers assistant Quin Snyder, sources said. After initial interviews with Charlotte executives Rod Higgins and Rich Cho, Shaw and Snyder were brought in last week to interview with Bobcats owner Michael Jordan.
Sloan pulled himself out of the running last week, and after meeting with Shaw and Snyder, Jordan decided to re-open the field and brought Dunlap back in for an interview on Monday, sources say. Impressed, Jordan offered Dunlap the job.
Cho told ESPN.com's Andy Katz on Monday night that "a strong emphasis in player development was extremely high on our priority list," in response to the Dunlap hire. Dunlap is known as a teacher of the game amid his peers in college and in the NBA.
Dunlap, who is known to favor an up-tempo style of play, will replace Paul Silas, whose contract was not
renewed after Charlotte finished with the worst winning percentage
in NBA history this past season. The Bobcats were 7-59.
Longtime NBA assistant Tim Grgurich, who worked alongside Dunlap in Denver while Dunlap was an assistant coach with the Nuggets, may join the Bobcats as an assistant, sources said.
Dunlap assumed all duties with the St. John's program last season after head coach Steve Lavin took a leave of absence to deal with prostate cancer.
"The Johnnies basketball family is ecstatic for Coach Dunlap's opportunity. Mike's selection as the Charlotte Bobcats' head coach is a well-deserved honor," Lavin said in a statement. "To make the unprecedented jump from college assistant to NBA head coach is testament to both Mike's abilities as a teacher and our basketball program's marked improvement over the past 27 months."
Though Dunlap has more than 30 years of coaching experience in college and the pros, he has never been a head coach at the Division I or NBA level. A two-time Division II national champion and Coach of the Year, he has been an assistant head coach at Arizona and Oregon, in addition to St. John's.
Arizona went 21-14 in 2008-09, advancing to the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 before ending the season with a loss to top-seeded Louisville in the NCAA Midwest regional semifinal game. Dunlap joined Oregon's staff in 2009-10 and the Ducks posted a 16-16 record.
Prior to working at Arizona and Oregon, Dunlap spent two seasons in the NBA with the Nuggets working under head coach George Karl.
The Nuggets compiled a 95-69 (.579) record during his tenure and made two playoff appearances, including a 50-win season for the 2007-08 Denver squad, a first for the organization in 23 seasons.
Early in his career, Dunlap also served as an assistant coach at Southern California under George Raveling, and as an assistant coach at Iowa. He also spent five years as an assistant at his alma mater, Loyola Marymount.
In between, he spent 10 years at Metropolitan State College of Denver.
Information from ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard, ESPN.com's Andy Katz and The Associated Press was used in this report.