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Meet the new coach of St. John's pro basketball team

Jeff Dunlap, left, the former North Carolina State Wolfpack director of basketball operations, will become the first head coach in St. John’s franchise history in the National Basketball League of Canada, The Telegram has learned. Dunlap, shown in this NC State file photo, is seated next to then-Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried, associate coach Bobby Lutz and assistant coach Rob Moxley.
Jeff Dunlap, left, the former North Carolina State Wolfpack director of basketball operations, will become the first head coach in St. John’s franchise history in the National Basketball League of Canada, The Telegram has learned. Dunlap, shown in this NC State file photo, is seated next to then-Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried, associate coach Bobby Lutz and assistant coach Rob Moxley.

The first coach of the fledgling National Basketball League of Canada franchise in St. John’s has a deep background in NCAA Division I basketball, with stints at the University of Alabama and North Carolina State University.

The Telegram has learned that 54-year-old Jeff Dunlap will be announced as the St. John’s franchise’s first coach, when it begins play in the NBL next month.

Officials from the yet-to-be named team — some insiders are hedging their bets on Signals — could not be reached for comment. It’s not known when Dunlap’s appointment will be made official, but St. John’s plays its first game Nov. 18, the first of five straight on the road.

The home opener at Mile One Centre is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 1 against the Niagara River Lions.

The league’s Draft Combine is Oct. 20-22 in Windsor, Ont.

Jeff Dunlap

Dunlap’s most recent position was director of basketball operations for the North Carolina State Wolfpack, which plays in U.S. college basketball’s ACC.

Last year’s NC State squad featured Dennis Smith Jr., who went ninth overall to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Draft in June.

Dunlap spent six years at NC State, working under coach Mark Gottfried. Dunlap had worked under Gottfried at the University of Alabama.

However, these are trying times for a Wolfpack program that went 15-17 last season, which led to Gottfried’s firing. That also meant Dunlap was out the door.

A native of North Hollywood, Calif., Dunlap played college ball at UCLA, where he was a teammate of future NBA players Reggie Miller and Pooh Richardson. In his final year in 1986, Dunlap was voted UCLA’s most outstanding senior.

Dunlap’s coaching resume, primarily as an assistant, includes stops at Quincy University in Quincy, Ill., Cal-State Fullerton, Fullerton College and Loyola-Chicago.

He spent four seasons as an assistant with the University of Georgia, and was part of the coaching staff when the Bulldogs advanced to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in 2001-02.

From there, he worked two seasons with the Crimson Tide as an assistant and director of basketball operations and three as an assistant with Western Michigan University.

The St. John’s ownership group is one headed up by Glace Bay, N.S., native Irwin Simon, the CEO and president of Hain Celestial, a New York-based company specializing in health food and personal care items, and includes Toronto promoter John Graham, who was the person behind the negotiations.

 

rshort@thetelegram.com

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