The triple threat

Kevin+Mullin+%28%E2%80%9815%29+dribbles+the+ball+towards+the+basket.+Mullin+was+pulled+up+to+the+varsity+basketball+team+last+year+by+Coach+Adam+Sax.+

Kevin Mullin (‘15) dribbles the ball towards the basket. Mullin was pulled up to the varsity basketball team last year by Coach Adam Sax.

Megan Valencia, Staff Writer

In high school basketball, a 3-point shooter stands 19 feet, 9 inches from the basket. Kevin Mullin (‘15) has no trouble with this distance, as he has the highest overall point count and greatest number of successful 3-pointers on the Paly varsity team. Though statistics represent the measurable athletic successes of a player, an immeasurable amount of personal effort is responsible for Mullin’s 3-point potency.

“[Mullin] is a fantastic kid,” Kings of Palo Alto basketball coach Brandynn Williams said. “He is a really hard worker, one of the hardest workers I have ever coached and one of the best players I have ever coached.”

Mullin’s basketball career began as a preschooler with a plastic hoop in Seattle, Wash. After Mullin and his family moved to Palo Alto, Calif., Mullin played at the YMCA, in the NJB and in All-Net. According to Mullin, his favorite basketball memory was when he hit a 3-pointer at the end of a game to send his sixth grade team into overtime, where they eventually won the game.

“Basketball is fun because it is a team sport, but it is more individual than other [team] sports,” Mullin said. “For individual sports, it is just you. For basketball, you get to touch the ball a lot, but there is still that team dynamic.”

Last year, Mullin played on the Paly varsity team as a sophomore. In promoting Mullin to Paly varsity, Coach Adam Sax saw the Mullin’s potential to be an effective, able varsity basketball player.

“We saw a very skilled player,” Sax said of the decision. “He could really dribble the ball and he could shoot it. He was going to get more out of playing and practicing on varsity. We brought him up and wanted to groom him and teach him the ropes of defense and competition. [Mullin] needed to go against stronger and older players. He always dominated his age group, so what he needed was to play against more experienced players.”

Now, as an experienced varsity player, Mullin brings a stronger skill-set to the basketball team. Along with learning the varsity plays, his offensive abilities have been enhanced. As of Feb. 3, Mullin leads the team with 51 successful 3-pointers.

“Kevin learned a lot from sophomore year,” Sax said. “He developed a lot of skill in passing. Some of his strengths are his ability to shoot threes and pull shots.”

Though Mullin’s sophomore varsity experience was a positive for the team’s future, his reserve status made the year difficult for him as a basketball player.

“Last year, not playing was pretty hard,” Mullin said. “I was used to starting and playing the entire game, and last year I didn’t get to play except in complete blow-outs. Even then, I wasn’t playing well because I was nervous. That was pretty tough, mentally.”

Although Mullin only played 16 games out on the court last year, he was exposed to a higher level of play and was able to become comfortable with varsity game strategy.

“I’m really glad that I played varsity last year instead of junior varsity, even though I didn’t get that much game experience,” Mullin said. “[Being able to learn the plays] was really helpful in our coach’s system. I think that it takes time to adjust to the pace of varsity basketball.”

Mullin’s improved abilities have aided the team this year as they lost many of their starters from previous years.

“We lost all of our top seven guys from last year,” Sax said. “[Our players this year] waited their turn and now they’ve stepped up. In games in the beginning of the year we had more turnovers, but now everything’s coming together. It’s fun to watch.”

Teammates like Corey Bicknell (‘15), acknowledge and appreciate the offensive and defensive strengths which Mullin brings to the team.

“Kevin’s strengths as a basketball player are definitely his ability to shoot and score consistently and his on-ball defense,” Bicknell said.

Along with the athletic ability that Mullin brings to the team, he also brings his personality and attitude to practice.

“He has a gregarious personality, he’s very outgoing, so he brings that onto the basketball court,” Sax said. “… He’s a very polite, academic individual. He has matured a lot in the last year, and he definitely brings a lot of life to practice.”

Mullin’s effort-driven attitude is beneficial both for his personal success and for the success of the team.

“He works hard at practice, and it shows in games,” Bicknell said. “As a teammate, he makes everyone around him better with how he plays.”

Mullin’s attitude not only affects the Paly varsity team. It affects all of his teammates, including his clb team.

“Not everyone is a leader. [Mullin] is a natural-born leader,” Williams said. “I’ve coached a lot of guys, and he just has determination and will.”

In regards to his future with basketball, Mullin wishes to play basketball in college and has begun exploring Division III options.

“[Mullin] has ambitions to play in college, and if he keeps improving his defense and if his game continues to grow, then there is a good possibility [that he will],” Sax said. “I definitely think that he has the skillset to play at the next level.”

According to Williams, Mullin’s hard-working attitude in both life and basketball will play a key role in his future.

“I believe the sky’s the limit for [Mullin’s] future,” Williams said. “If he’s doing something athletic, I think he’ll be extremely successful because of his hard work. If you work hard in life, good things will happen.”

As the Paly basketball season continues, the 3-point line will not change; it stays the same 19 feet from the basket. However, change is certain with regards to Mullin’s 3-point count, and there is nowhere to go but up.