---------------------------------------------------------------------, miles from the Winston-Salem campus of WFU), and he seemed to revel in the college atmosphere. And after all, former Demon Deacons Tim Duncan and Josh Howard stayed at Wake all four years before moving on to NBA stardom and riches. But Paul knew that he was ready for the challenge that the NBA would present. His college coach, Skip Prosser, although it meant his 2005-06 team would struggle without its star point guard, knew so too. "Chris is very talented, but very competitive as well," Prosser says. "God has given him tremendous ability, but he has maximized that ability. There are a lot of players with ability. Only a small percentage have that ability maximized. "The greatest motivation is self-motivation, and Chris has always had large doses of that." Paul knew that he wouldn't be the first player selected in the 2005 NBA Draft (Milwaukee had made no secret about its preference for big man Andrew Bogut), but he had hoped to be the first of three talented point guards available. As the fourth overall pick, he did go one spot higher than fellow ACC product Raymond Felton (who was chosen fifth) but was selected after Illinois backcourt standout Deron Williams, who was chosen third by the Utah Jazz. "I was a little upset," Paul said at the time, "because all three of us had talked about who would go first, and we all are competitors." His father Charles put the draft into perspective, however, stating that night, "Wherever the Lord wants to send him, that will be the best situation for him. He likes this challenge."
Early Success Hornets head coach Byron Scott remembers well his first meeting with Paul. "At a workout before the 2005 NBA Draft, we brought Chris in by himself, and my first impression was 'Wow! ' "Both as a player and as a person, I could tell he was one of a kind." While not physically imposing- some would say smallish even for a point guard at 6'0, 175 pounds-Paul did prove to be imposing on the court with his speed, qui c kn ess, knowledge of the game, and play-making skills. His statistics for a rookie were outstanding- 16.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 7.8 assists, and 2.2 steals per game. He ranked first among all NBA players in steals ( 175) and was fifth in the league in assists (6 11 ). Paul led the 2005-06 rookie class in scoring, assists, steals, and minutes played. He was unanimously selected to the NBA AllRookie squad and when the 125 ballots for 2006 NBA SPORTS SPECTRUM - 1/0VEMBER路 DECEMBER 1006
Chris Paul (Cover story)