Greg Paulus is not your ordinary Duke basketball recruit.
Head coach Mike Krzyzewski has recruited immensely talented point guards before. Guards such as Tommy Amaker and Bobby Hurley were program-changers, players who won game after game for Krzyzewski, putting the Blue Devils on the national map and turning Duke into one of basketball's winningest programs.
Paulus is certainly that type of recruit. A 6-foot-2 junior point guard from Manlius, N.Y., Paulus is the consummate floor general, capable of nailing a three-pointer or dishing out a nifty assist in a pinch. Like many Blue Devil recruits before him, he is one of the nation's top players. He battles through nightly double- and triple-teams to average a staggering 23 points and eight assists per game, and he has already scored a whopping 1,861 points in his career for Christian Brothers Academy (CBA).
He is a winner, too; Paulus' high school basketball teams have won two sectional championships and four straight league championships. He has taken--and made--several game-winning shots in his career. According to Buddy Wleklinski, Paulus' coach, the Duke staff often likened him to Bobby Hurley.
"They put him in the frame of the [John] Stocktons and the [Steve] Nashes, a tough, poised point guard--the leaders," Wleklinski said. "That's what he is and that's what they like about him."
Paulus is also an accomplished quarterback; in fact, he is the reigning New York State Player of the Year in the top classification. He has the capability to outrun a defense. His smooth, nearly effortless throwing mechanics allow him to throw the football with great accuracy and velocity up to 50 yards down the field. In addition to being one of the nation's top point guards, he is also the nation's top quarterback and still draws heavy football recruiting interest.
"He still continues to have...all the major football passing programs seek after him to play football," said Dave Paulus, Greg's father.
Paulus is indeed unique in that respect; few if any recruits come in with the potential to be not only a future Naismith, but also a possible Heisman winner. He would bring instant credibility to Blue Devils football and could potentially be a program-changing player should he ever decide to go under center for Duke.
"He has definitely considered the option of taking that football program down there and putting them on the map," Dave Paulus said. "I wouldn't say that he's definitely playing, but he hasn't ruled it out either."
Playing two sports at Paulus' level requires a tremendous amount of resilience. Nonetheless, Paulus handles it with aplomb, despite admitting that the turnaround between football and basketball seasons is quite difficult.
"When I come back, the conditioning is always the problem for me," Paulus said. "Football shape is definitely different from basketball shape."
Paulus, nonetheless, is an amazingly tough player. One time, according to Wleklinski, Paulus suffered a badly sprained ankle the day before a sectional semifinal game. Just minutes into the game, Paulus then jammed his hand badly.
Paulus, however, told nobody of the injury, and proceeded to play through the game. His team came up just short despite Paulus' best effort; he still managed to score over 20 points.
"Coming out of there he could barely walk," Wleklinski said. "The next day, when I saw his hand, I didn't even know how he was able to handle the ball."
Despite the astonishing accomplishment, Paulus remained modest. "It's the playoffs," Paulus said. "It's win or go home, and you've got to suck it up."
For all his ability to hit wide receivers on a dime and deliver picture-perfect assists, though, it is Paulus' personality, coupled with his leadership and toughness, that sets him apart from almost every other player ever to suit up for Krzyzewski. Charismatic, passionate and ever humble about his accomplishments, Paulus possesses an innate ability to win.
"Greg is just absolutely unbelievable in terms of character, morals, values and the support and care he shows for everybody," said Theresa Quilty, Paulus' guidance counselor at CBA. "Everybody in the school loves this kid, from the musicians, to the athletes, to the teachers, to the skateboarders. He treats everyone with respect, and he tries to include everybody."
Quilty continued by mentioning that Paulus' strong faith, his ability and willingness to give speeches, and his citizenship help augment his leadership qualities off the court.
"Probably one of the reasons why high schools in the area like CBA and don't look down on it is because they like Greg," said Quilty, referring to local sports rivalries. "They really like and respect Greg."
Dave Paulus proceeded to elaborate on his son Greg's leadership qualities, elucidating some of the things that have helped his son to build a commanding presence on the court.
"He commands respect because he is the kind of guy who doesn't change his disposition," Dave Paulus said. "He remains calm under fire, he knows how to win, and he also has a tremendous confidence that he will find a way to get the thing they're trying to get accomplished done."
Paulus does not like talking about his leadership. He did, however, offer insight as to why he is so successful in rallying his troops. "I'm just trying to win games," he said. "I think it's extremely important to know the personnel you have. I just try to learn and grow friendships with the guys around me so that on the court you can see that we're a family."
To that end, Paulus maintains regular contact with fellow class of 2005 Duke commitment Josh McRoberts, and has contacted Blue Devils target Tyler Hansbrough. Additionally, Paulus speaks with Krzyzewski roughly once a week.
"Greg, really, our whole family thinks the world of Coach K and his staff, and I think that my son is just getting indoctrinated into the program right now," Dave Paulus said. "When he comes down there, he will have built a relationship [with Krzyzewski] for two and a half years. He will be a complete extension of Coach K on the floor."
The Blue Devils' future floor general credits his family for his amazing leadership and resilience.
"I have a little bit of each of my brothers, my sister and my parents, too, in my basketball game," Paulus said. "They have a big role in my life on and off the court."
Additionally, through all the fame and hype attached with his status, Paulus has managed to tuck away his ego, remaining modest about his accomplishments.
"The thing that's really unique about him is that he's been able to keep his head on straight," Dave Paulus added. "He's been able to really not change at all in terms of the person he is, which I'm really very proud of."
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