A six-foot tall, soft-spoken dude with an ordinary name, no tattoos and no bling. It's obvious that New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul—despite his electrifying game—is different from other NBA superstars.
You won't find CP pouring in points like Kobe, rattling rims like LeBron or dominating the paint like the Daily Double (Dwight Howard). We're talking about a guy who had his choice of any college basketball powerhouse in the country, but who chose to stay in his hometown of Winston-Salem, N.C., to play ball for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
A no-doubt lottery pick, CP declined after his freshman season and returned to Wake for a second year before being selected fourth overall in the 2005 NBA Draft. During just three seasons with the Hornets, CP has collected the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, led the league in assists and steals (in 2008), made two All-Star appearances and scored a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.
STACK went one-on-one (off the court, thankfully) with CP to hear his take on recruiting and making it to the next level.
STACK: What's it like to be recruited by big time college programs, and why did you decide on Wake Forest?
Chris Paul: I took one official visit to Wake Forest, and that was it. That was my hometown. I actually took a few unofficial [visits] to schools like N.C. State and [North] Carolina. I just had a great fit [at Wake Forest] with the coaching staff, and that's where I ended up.
STACK: Why did you decide to attend college rather than jump from high school to the NBA?
CP: The NBA is not always guaranteed. Anything can happen [at] any given time, and basketball can be over. I was thinking about life after basketball. You have to have a foundation, a good head on your shoulders. I loved college. I [played] two years at Wake Forest, and I miss it.
STACK: What goals did you hope to achieve on and off the court when you enrolled at Wake?
CP: When I started college, it was about going to school, and hopefully getting an opportunity [to play in] the NBA. The NBA opportunity came, and I finally made it there. I still haven't forgotten my goal, which was to get a college degree. That's very important to me. It's not about doing it for me or my mom or my dad. It's about knowing that I achieved that. My brother graduated from college, and that's something that I want to do.
STACK: What advice would you offer a high school athlete on making it to the next level?
CP: Keep practicing. Keep going as hard as you can. Never let someone tell you you're too small or too slow to do something. That's what drove me the most, those people who told me I couldn't do it. Look at me. They always told me I was too short. They still do. I use that as motivation.
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