The Charlotte Bobcats have tapped St. John’s assistant Mike Dunlap as their next head coach, according to a statement released by the school early Tuesday morning and reports from sources close to the negotiations.

The team is expected to formally introduce Dunlap at a Wednesday press conference, as reported by ESPN.’s Chris Broussard.

Late last week reports surfaced that the Charlotte Bobcats had narrowed their coaching search to two candidates — Los Angeles Lakers assistant Quin Snyder and Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw.

Both are widely regarded as elite NBA assistants, but neither had ever held an NBA head coaching job, and in the case of Shaw, any head coaching position at any level.

So it should hardly come as a surprise that the Bobcats chose a well respected coach without NBA head coaching experience to lead their team out of the depths of the Eastern Conference, but the choice was still rather unexpected.

“The Johnnies basketball family is ecstatic for Coach Dunlap’s opportunity,” Red Storm head coach Steve Lavin said in a statement on the university’s athletic Web site. “Mike’s selection as the Charlotte Bobcats’ head coach is a well-deserved honor. To make the unprecedented jump from college assistant to NBA head coach is testament to both Mike’s abilities as a teacher and our basketball program’s marked improvement over the past 27 months.”

Dunlap, 53, brings 30 years of coaching experience to a Charlotte team that finished an NBA-worst 7-59 last season and had the worst winning percentage in league history. But over that span, Dunlap has never served as a head coach at the Division I or NBA level. He spent nine seasons with Division II Metropolitan State College in Denver where he led the Roadrunners to a pair of national championships and earned two coach of the year awards in 2000 and 2002.

Previously, Dunlap was the head coach for the Adelaide 36ers, an Australian professional team.

Dunlap coached under longtime Arizona coach Lute Olson and spent two seasons with George Karl’s Denver Nuggets, earning a reputation as a strong player development coach. This season, he assumed all duties with St. John’s when head coach Steve Lavin took a leave of absence to be treated for prostate cancer. The Red Storm finished 13-19.

The Bobcats have the second pick in this month’s NBA draft and will face pressure to nab a player who can become the new face of Michael Jordan’s floundering franchise.

Great hire by Bobcats! Mike Dunlap is one of the most creative defensive minds I’ve ever worked with. Welcome back to the NBA!

— George Karl (@CoachKarl22) June 19, 2012

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