Having the last name “Mullin” means one thing in this diocese: Basketball runs in your blood.
The next chapter of the Mullin legacy is about to be written, as Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge, senior Caitlin Mullin is set to continue her hoops career at SUNY Oneonta.
Caitlin is the daughter of Chrissy and Terence Mullin, a guard who played four years at St. John’s University, Jamaica, from 1988-1992. Terence’s older brother and Caitlin’s uncle is none other than the great Chris Mullin, a Naismith Hall of Famer who starred at Xaverian as a senior, St. John’s in college and then 16 seasons in the NBA.
Caitlin’s basketball journey began on the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) courts of St. Francis de Sales, Belle Harbor, where she also attended grammar school. She excelled in volleyball, swimming, softball and soccer, yet basketball always held a special place in her heart.
“The best thing about basketball has been meeting people,” the shooting guard from Rockaway Beach said.
“I’ve made my best friends from my teams. I love being able to depend on my teammates and have them depend on me too.”
As an eighth grader, Caitlin was thrilled to hear Xaverian would be going co-ed just in time for her freshman year. Her dad and uncle both attended the school and contributed to the competitive basketball tradition.
“Even before I went to see Xaverian, I knew that I was going to love it there,” she said. perfect and exactly where I wanted to be.”
That historic first season, a team of only freshmen began turning heads in the GCHSAA. Caitlin and her Clipper teammates laid the foundation of the next successful high school diocesan program. The team made the jump to the varsity level the following year, so Caitlin spent the next three seasons on varsity, which included the team finishing this past year as runners-up for the diocesan championship.
“She’s one of the smartest players I’ve coached,” said Mark Spelman, Xaverian’s varsity girls’ head coach and a 1992 graduate of the school. “Her basketball IQ was off the charts. A lot of times, we used her to defend the other team’s best player. She was the smartest, and I say that about a team that had a lot of high IQs.”
While playing Amateur Athletic Union tournaments throughout New York, Caitlin started to gain an understanding of her uncle’s impact on the local game. She constantly fielded the question of whether she was related to Chris, a U.S. Olympian on the “Dream Team” who averaged 18.2 points per game in his pro career.
“As I kept getting asked that question, I began to realize that it’s a big deal,” Caitlin said. “As a young kid, it never really was a big deal to me. He was just my uncle.”
Chris retired from the NBA in 2001, so Caitlin never got the chance to see that smooth lefty shot in action. Instead, she has seen plenty of clips on YouTube as well as heard the stories of his NBA career from her parents. Whenever she speaks to Uncle Chris, she’s a sponge soaking up whatever the basketball guru has to say.
In addition to receiving hoops advice from Chris, Caitlin relied on her dad Terence — her CYO coach as well — to help develop her game. Her other uncle, John Mullin — who played at Bridgeport University, Conn. — was instrumental in helping her understand the process of choosing a college.
The fall still has some uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, yet Caitlin has used the extra time to hone her skills in order to be ready for anything. SUNY Oneonta head women’s basketball coach Daphne Thompson sent her players specific workouts, which will especially help the newcomers transition well to the program.
Caitlin will be joined by one of her Clipper teammates, forward Isabelle Zukowski. Of Xaverian’s seven seniors from the past season, six will be playing college basketball — a testament to the strong program that has developed the last four years.
At the next level, Caitlin said she hopes to remain consistent and continue practicing the work ethic that has become second nature to her since she started playing the game.
“I just need to keep working hard and keep pushing myself,” she said. “Definitely having the name ‘Mullin’ puts a little bit of extra pressure on me. That makes me work harder than everyone else.”
With that in mind, her name and more importantly her game will allow her to continue the family’s unmatched basketball tradition.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at email@example.com.