The Blue Zone will be running a summer series bringing you the latest on some of Duke basketball’s former stars. This week, The Blue Zone takes a look at Greg Paulus.
Greg Paulus was a two sport star at Christian Brothers Academy in New York, playing both basketball and football. In addition to four memorable years running the point at Duke, Paulus has experienced collegiate sports at three other schools, both as a player and a coach.
Paulus arrived on campus as a freshman and was immediately thrust into the starting lineup as the point guard. Though put into a tough spot as a freshman, Paulus thrived. His 5.2 assists per game was not only the best mark of his four year Duke career, but also helped him become the fourth ever freshman to lead the ACC in assists and also placed him behind just Bobby Hurley and Jason Williams in Blue Devil history for total assists as a freshman. Paulus' season earned him All-ACC Freshman Team honors.
As a sophomore Paulus took a step back as a distributor and took on more of a scoring role with JJ Redick and and Shelden Williams in the NBA. As part of a balanced offensive attack, Paulus scored 11.8 points per game, good for fourth on the team behind DeMarcus Nelson, Josh McRoberts and Jon Scheyer. Though he averaged just 3.8 assists as a sophomore, he was still the top distributor on the team. He was also the top 3-point threat on the roster, shooting 45.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Coming off of a first round exit in the NCAA tournament, Paulus put together another solid all-around season his junior year. Paulus scored 11.4 points per game and doled out 3.2 assists—both down from his previous season—but improved his steals per game with a mark of 1.5 thefts per contest. For his strong season Paulus was rewarded with third team All-ACC honors.
Paulus' senior season at Duke would become his final playing basketball at a high level. After starting 95 of 103 games his first three seasons as a Blue Devil, Paulus started just five as a senior. Instead of Paulus, sophomore Nolan Smith and freshman Elliot Williams earned the majority of starts next to Scheyer in the Duke backcourt.
With his basketball career ending as a backup, Paulus opted to return to his other high school sport—football. Though he hadn't played the sport for four seasons, Paulus still drew interest from a number of Division I schools, as it's not every day a former Gatorade National Player of the Year becomes available. After high school Paulus was heavily recruited by by Miami and Notre Dame among other programs, and after college he was recruited once again by elite programs. Finally, Paulus decided to return home, joining a struggling Syracuse program to play quarterback.
Then-first-year Syracuse head coach and current Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone made a bold decision by benching the incumbent starter Cameron Dantley and handing the reins to Paulus instead of then-redshirt freshman and current New York Giant Ryan Nassib. Paulus was named a captain by his new teammates, completed 67.7 percent of his passes—a school record—and led the Orange to a 4-8 record. Although Syracuse finished under .500, it was a significant upgrade for a program who won just 10 games the past four seasons combined.
After his one year stint with Syracuse, Paulus earned mini-camp invites from the New Orleans Saints in both May and June of 2010, but ultimately was not tendered a contract. With a professional football career unlikely and his basketball playing days in the rearview mirror, Paulus began his coaching career before his 24th birthday. The former point guard joined the basketball staff at Navy as an assistant coach.
After one year at Navy during which the Midshipmen posted an 11-20 record, Paulus joined Thad Matta's staff at Ohio State as a video coordinator. Paulus' job involved watching film, scouting the upcoming opponents and breaking down the video for the Buckeyes. Paulus and Matta had a history dating back to when Matta recruited him out of high school.
This offseason Paulus was heavily rumored to join the Northwestern coaching staff as a full time assistant once former Duke associate head coach Chris Collins accepted the head coaching job with the Wildcats. Though Paulus never departed for Evanston, Ill., he got his promotion to assistant coach after all. When Chris Jent left Ohio State to accepted a position with the Sacramento Kings in the NBA, Paulus was Matta's choice to replace Jent on the bench. Paulus begins his first season as an assistant coach with Ohio State when the Buckeyes open the 2013-14 season.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.