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Georgetown’s hiring of college hoops and NBA legend Patrick Ewing made headlines this offseason, and rightfully so. But he’s not the only head coach that played at the highest level.

Yes, he was the best. But he has company.

 

You may have known some of these former NBA players were college coaches. A few of the names, though, might make you think to yourself, “wait, what?

Here are nine Division I head coaches that had the best NBA playing careers.

Patrick Ewing, Georgetown

Ewing’s Basketball-Reference page runs very long. It features some gaudy numbers. That’s a way of saying Ewing was a great NBA player for an extended period of time.

He played 15 seasons in the NBA, 13 with the Knicks.  He was an 11-time All-Star and a six-time All-NBA second-teamer. The one thing that eluded him: a championship.

At the professional level, anyway. Ewing led Georgetown to the NCAA tournament crown in 1984. We’ll see if he can do the same thing as a coach 30-plus years later.

Chris Mullin, St. John’s

Chris Mullin is set to enter his third year as the Red Storm head coach.

Anthony Gruppuso | USA TODAY Sports Images

Chris Mullin is set to enter his third year as the Red Storm head coach.

It may take some time for Georgetown and St. John’s to return to their former dominance, but regardless of the on-court product, it’s going to be a blast watching Ewing and Mullin go head-to-head coaching their alma maters.

Mullin might be one of the most underrated NBA players ever. He was ahead of his time, a knockdown 3-point shooter that, in today’s game, would have averaged more than the 2.2 3s he launched per night. The ex-Warrior made 38 percent of those for his career and notched five consecutive seasons averaging 25 points or higher. Mullin was a five-time All-Star.

He’s about to enter his third season on the bench for the Red Storm, and things are trending upward. Mullin won six more games in his second year than he did in his first, and his 2017-18 roster is easily his best yet.

Danny Manning, Wake Forest

Manning's Wake Forest squad had the seventh-best offense in the country last year.

Rick Ostentoski | USA TODAY Sports Images

Manning’s Wake Forest squad had the seventh-best offense in the country last year.

In college, Manning was the ultimate winner. He won a national title at Kansas and earned Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors in 1988. He was a three-time conference player of the year.

In the NBA, he didn’t win as much, but his numbers were awfully impressive. He averaged 24 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Clippers in 1993-94; early in his career, he was an efficient, reliable top-scoring option.

Manning inherited a rough situation at Wake Forest, but he’s turning things around. After finishing below .500 in each of his first two seasons, the Demon Deacons made the NCAA tournament in 2017 behind stud big man John Collins, a player who, coincidence or not, looked like the evolutionary Manning.

Avery Johnson, Alabama

Avery Johnson has a good shot to lead Alabama to the NCAA tournament in 2018.

Jim Brown | USA TODAY Sports Images

Avery Johnson has a good shot to lead Alabama to the NCAA tournament in 2018.

You just knew Johnson would end up as a head coach one day. He was never a star as an NBA player — he averaged 8.4 points for his career — but Johnson was always a leader. A winner. “The Little General,” as they called him, won a championship in 1999 with San Antonio. His No. 6 jersey is retired by the Spurs.

Like Mullin and Manning, he hasn’t experienced a great deal of success in the college coaching ranks, but Alabama is coming. Johnson has his most talented roster yet and his teams have finished above .500 the last two seasons. The Crimson Tide appear poised to do so.

Mark Price, Charlotte