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Walk-on Patrick Davidson started and guarded future NBA star Chris Paul in 2005, picking up two fouls ...

This week in Duke history: Krzyzewski starts walk-ons against Chris Paul, Wake Forest



Not every game is a big one for a walk-on, especially at Duke.

But imagine being a walk-on and having to go against one of the best players in the ACC in recent memory, a future star in the NBA.

That was the task for sophomore Patrick Davidson Feb. 20, 2005. Fed up with two straight losses, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski swapped out three starters for former walk-on Reggie Love and walk-ons Davidson and Patrick Johnson against Chris Paul and then-No. 5 Wake Forest.

And what happened?

Davidson committed two fouls in a little more than two minutes on the floor, hounding Paul every time he touched the ball. It was just the intensity the team needed, Krzyzewski said later.

Paul did not appreciate the move quite as much, telling ESPN the following year, "I was upset—I felt like it was a cheap move to do stuff like that, to put a guy in who usually didn't play and come into the game to hit me with a couple of cheap shots."

J.J. Redick also scored 38 points in the 102-92 victory against the Demon Deacons, who got a 37-point effort from Paul. But perhaps the most memorable moment was when Davidson, a former high school teammate of Luol Deng, checked out with 17:44 left in the first half.

As Chronicle sportswriter Sarah Kwak wrote that year, "When he returned to the bench, Krzyzewski grabbed the sophomore and embraced him, reminiscent of the hug shared by then-captain Steve Wojciechowski after his Senior Night win over North Carolina in 1998. Davidson said he would cherish that moment for the rest of his life.”

Davidson’s younger brother, Jordan, joined the team as a walk-on the next year. Paul eventually played for Krzyzewski for the United States national team at the 2006 FIBA World Championship and the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

"We hit it off, and I've got a newfound respect for Coach K," Paul said in 2006. "I've gotten to know him. We've moved on. I'll crack jokes on Duke and he'll do the same on Wake."


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