Chicago Sun-Times

St. John’s turns to Pitino as coach

- Sun-Times wires

Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino is back in the Big East.

St. John’s hired Pitino, 70, on Monday to boost a storied program that has been mired in mediocrity for much of this century. He previously had coached Providence (1985-87) and Louisville (2005-13) in the conference.

The school announced the move on Twitter, and Pitino is expected to be introduced during a news conference Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

‘‘One of my great coaching memories was having the distinct privilege of coaching against Lou Carnesecca and St. John’s, a Hall of Fame coach and historic program that I have always respected,’’ Pitino said in a statement released by the school. ‘‘It is surreal to now have this opportunit­y to bring St. John’s back to prominence. I’m honored, humbled and grateful.’’

After a successful run at mid-major Iona, where he compiled a 64-22 record in three seasons, Pitino was plucked away to replace Mike Anderson, who was fired March 10 after four seasons without making the NCAA Tournament. ESPN reported Anderson plans to file an arbitratio­n lawsuit against St. John’s over the approximat­ely $11 million he would have been owed by the school had he not been fired ‘‘for cause.’’

After Anderson was fired, reports quickly surfaced that indicated the Red Storm planned to target Pitino, who grew up not far from St. John’s campus in the Queens borough of New York.

Pitino, who has a .740 winning percentage in 35 seasons as a college coach, has been to seven Final Fours and has won two NCAA championsh­ips, one each at Kentucky (1996) and Louisville (2013).

He was dismissed at Louisville in 2017 after an FBI investigat­ion into college basketball corruption led to allegation­s of NCAA violations. It was the third scandal — profession­al and personal — in an eight-year period with the Cardinals, but Pitino eventually was exonerated in the FBI-related case.

Georgetown hires Cooley as coach

Ed Cooley was named the coach at Georgetown, which hired him away from Big East rival Providence in the hopes of rebuilding a once-proud program that had dropped to new lows under former star Patrick Ewing, who was fired March 9 after a 75-109 record in six seasons.

‘‘I plan on hitting the ground running, getting to work on the court and cultivatin­g relationsh­ips in and around the District [of Columbia],’’ Cooley said in a statement released by the school. ‘‘Accepting this opportunit­y with Georgetown is not a decision I took lightly.’’

Cooley’s name was linked to the job even as the Friars’ season was still in progress. When he was asked after Providence’s 61-53 loss Friday to Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA Tournament whether he would be returning to the school, he replied: ‘‘Next question.’’

Cooley, 53, left the Friars with a 242-153 record and seven NCAA Tournament appearance­s in 12 seasons. Providence finished 21-12 this season.

Pepperdine star says he’s going pro

Pepperdine sophomore Maxwell Lewis told ESPN he will forgo his remaining college eligibilit­y and enter the NBA Draft in June.

‘‘I’m going all-in and forgoing my college eligibilit­y,’’ Lewis told the network. ‘‘This is the right time to make this decision.’’

Lewis, the No. 27 prospect in ESPN’s draft projection­s, was named to the All-West Coast Conference second team after averaging 16.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists this season.

 ?? AP ?? Two-time NCAA champion coach Rick Pitino will be introduced as the coach at St. John’s at a news conference Tuesday. He spent the last three seasons at Iona.
AP Two-time NCAA champion coach Rick Pitino will be introduced as the coach at St. John’s at a news conference Tuesday. He spent the last three seasons at Iona.

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