My NCAA Sophomore Crush: Federico Mussini

Dec 13, 2015; Queens, NY, USA; St. John
Dec 13, 2015; Queens, NY, USA; St. John /

This is a guest post by Joseph Nardone (@JosephNardone). You can find his stellar work @TodaysUSports and @TodaysFastBreak. He pines for the days when players weren’t in tiered systems and everyone was viewed equally but alas, he also enjoy being their Robin Hood of sorts. Read his work!

Most of the guys at Upside & Motor have sophomore crushes who possess actual production behind them to warrant such love. That’s fine, if not reasonable, but there’s an aspect to having a crush that should defy reason, logic, and any sort of realism. In fact, whenever having a crush, one tends to only view that person through a positive lens…negativity be damned.

How else would you explain your weird infatuation in high school with that person four seats in front of you in history class who regularly discussed world politics in terms only relative to Final Fantasy VII?

Speaking of, I miss you, Aerith Gainsborough.

Anyway, that’s an important preface – and insane amounts of coded caveats – to drop before discussing my sophomore crush. He is an imperfect player, with glaring flaws, yet the reasons I care for him so mightily ignores all of that.

(Deep breath)

St. John’s Red Storm guard, Federico Mussini, happens to be my sophomore crush. And, yes, I do realize that the mere picking a player on a team that went 8-24 last season ruins any credibility I might have in discussing his abilities, but let’s be honest about that; credibility is overrated. Plus, I am a SJU homer. We can blame Bootsy scoring 40 In the Garden against Duke for that, but that’s an entirely different story for a different time.

Eh, I digress.

Mussini isn’t on here because he was great last season. He’s here because of what he can be – which is, basically, one of the most entertaining players in college basketball to consume.

As a freshman, the Reggio Emilia, Italy product averaged 10.7 points per game on an abominable 34 shooting from the floor and a woeful 30 percent from beyond the arc. But please, seriously, ignore that context moving forward.

It wasn’t how productive or impressive he looked that made Mussini an endearing unpaid basketball player, it was how he went about being an inefficient hoopster.

Mussini played in a way that made you believe he thought he was a combination of Steve Nash and Steph Curry. Constantly weaving in, around, and through defenders, always looking to take a shot, Mussini would just as easily hurl an ill-fated 30-foot bomb as he would dazzle you by breaking an opposing defender’s ankles as if it were a part of the human anatomy constructed by IKEA.

To be fair to the undersized, thin, yet not wiry guard, Mussini wasn’t meant to be the starting point guard for the Johnnies during the 2015-16 season. Marcus LoVett was, but he was deemed ineligible by the governing body of college sports. That forced then first-year head coach Chris Mullin to insert a not sincerely ready Mussini into a big time minute position.

The good news here, at least in theory and in projection, is that LoVett is back this year. If he happens to be as good as original grassroots reports indicated, Mussini will no longer have to carry the heavy burden of being the main ball-handler.

Furthermore, he will not only get to play off the ball in more situations, but against opposing team’s second tier rotations. While not exactly a glowing endorsement, the 6’3” Curry/Nash wannabe will be put in a position to scorch the Earth against the nation’s thinnest benches on the regular.

His 11 points per on 34 percent shooting as a starter looks bad, right? Now insert those skills – plus a presumed improvement – into a situation against the Club State Pool Cleaner’s bench rotation… the possibilities are endless.

More from Mens Basketball

If you haven’t see him play, and honestly no one can blame you if you failed to do so, Mussini is a volume-shooting

Womp Womp Monster

(patent pending) only rivaled by Marshall Henderson in his sheer unearned, ravaging confidence. This is highlighted by Mussini’s near six three point attempts per game despite hitting them at such a contemptible clip.

But wait, there is some more good here. Not all of my unbridled, patently absurd love for Mussini is undeserved.

The Red Storm should be (marginally) better this season. LoVett will be back, Yankuba Sima (another top-secret sophomore crush) should have improved by leaps and bounds, and Mullin will have a full season of coaching under his belt. All of their presumed separate improvements combined should help highlight Mussini’s strengths as a player and hide all his negatives.

Then again, as already mentioned, many of those negatives are what make him as fun to watch as old Teddy Ruxpin clips on YouTube. His wild, hilarious, and downright filthy confidence to play basketball in such a reckless fashion is what makes him a must-see for any fan of basketball.

Moreover, for those longing for the days of Allen Iverson in the NBA, or iso-heavy guys in college like Keifer Sykes or even a guy like Kemba Walker, will enjoy his style of play.

Again, to be Camp Crystal Lake clear about all of this: he is not any of those guys. Not in practice, and barely in theory. He just so happens to play a style in which he thinks he is those guys – oh, and so much better than them, too.

To put this in the simplest terms: If NBA 2K17 comes out and magically allows for college players to be in the game, all the developers would have to do is take everything we love about Curry and Nash – their ball handling styles, weaving through defenses, quick releases, etc. – and make those Mussini’s signature moves. The only remaining thing they would have to do is drop those ratings a bit to adjust to the guard’s actual skill set.

But if – and that’s a gosh slam enormous IF – Mussini can become even the slightest bit better (hell, even if he doesn’t) he will become college basketball’s next small-guard darling. And, honestly, who doesn’t want to root for that?

Next: Scouting N.C. State's Omer Yurtseven