NBA 75: Chris Paul found his game at Wake Forest, en route to NBA stardom (TSN Archives)

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Chris Paul at Wake Forest (TSN Archives)

The NBA is celebrating players from the NBA 75 list almost daily from now until the end of the season. Today's honoree is Chris Paul, the 2006 NBA Rookie of the Year. Before he was an 11-time (and counting) NBA All-Star, Paul was finding his game under the late Skip Prosser at Wake Forest. Here are three of the earliest times Paul’s name appeared in The Sporting News.

College Basketball Inside Dish

Nov. 17, 2003, issue

Mike DeCourcy wrote: Wake Forest won’t rush freshman PG Chris Paul into the lineup, even though he has been everything the coaches expected in preseason practices. Paul is a natural leader, is quickly mastering plays and isn’t afraid to be vocal with more experienced teammates. However, with junior Taron Downey owning 41 career starts, Paul will have to earn a starting job gradually. That will help keep pressure on the gifted newcomer to a minimum. Wake is using 6-9 Jamaal Levy at small forward but also may use Downey, Paul and sophomore Justin Gray in a three-small alignment at times.

College Basketball Insider: Who is Chris Paul?

Dec. 15, 2003, issue

Kyle Veltrop wrote: As if the first statement game in Paul's career 20 points and eight assists in Wake Forest's 100-67 win over Indiana last week wasn't strong enough, Hoosiers coach Mike Davis offered this. "I think Chris Paul may be the best point guard we've played against since I've been at Indiana' Not loo bad, considering Davis Hoosiers have faced Ford, Jay Williams and Dee Brown.

A Winston-Salem, N.C., native, Paul was one of the most celebrated recruits in Wake Forest history. His coach, Skip Prosser, says, "He's a class president type. If Chris Paul never played another second of basketball for us, Wake Forest still would be a better place for having him around!"

Wake, off to a 5 0 start, lost All-American Josh Howard from last year's ACC championship team, but it returned every other key contributor, including emerging sophomores Eric Williams and Justin Gray. Though point guard Taron Downey returned, Paul has been initiating Wake's offense about 70 percent of the time.

Strengths: Sees the whole floor and will take whatever is available to him. Makes great decisions. In his first five games, had 29 assists to seven turnovers. Reads screens well. Great Quidi ty; there's nothing wild about his game. Has a deep offensive repertoire and an extra gear, which makes it difficult to pick him up fullcourt.

Weaknesses: Has to be prodded to look for his shot. We told him were more dangerous when we don't play four on five, Prosser says. Opponents have to respect him from 3-point range, but he still must prove he's a great shooter Paul is strong defending the ball, but he tends to watch the ball and lose his man or his positioning. Though deceptively strong, he lacks great size (60, 168).

An opposing coach says: "Chris reminds me of T.J. Ford, just in the way that they control the tempo of the game. It's hard to find a true point guard, and Chris is a pure point guard. I watched him in high school, and I know he can shoot. But his deal is to get people the ball.” — Kyle Veltrop

College Basketball Inside Dish

Dec. 29, 2003, issue

DeCourcy wrote: Wake Forest PG Chris Paul is so unselfish coach Skip Prosser had to warn the promising freshman that opponents would guard the Deacons 5-on-4 if Paul didn’t quit passing up open shots. He averaged 16.8 points in his next four games.

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