Paulus Sticks with Duke

Dec, 16, 2004
Paulus Sticks with Duke
By Luke Eggleston/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
All-State Point Guard Reveals He was a True Blue Devil All Along

Over the last four years at Christian Brothers Academy, two-sport athlete Greg Paulus has guided his career through a swirl of speculation. The class of 2005’s top ranked point guard, Paulus was also the nation’s top quarterback prospect according to many services and few had him ranked lower than No. 2 among passers. Even after he announced his verbal commitment to play basketball at Duke University before the 2003 football season, some observers still longed to see him on the gridiron in the gold and blue of Notre Dame or elsewhere.

Another outburst of speculation erupted during the 2004 high school football season in which the Brothers won their first New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championship. Last week, Paulus finally put to bed rumors and reports in circulation that claimed he would back away from Duke and instead ply his trade under center. Asserting that he had not wanted such an official signing to disrupt the Brothers’ run to the state final in the Carrier Dome, Paulus revealed that he had signed a letter of intent to attend Duke weeks earlier, specifically Nov. 16.

“I kept it silent for so long because I wanted to enjoy my senior year,” Paulus said. “I wanted to enjoy my last time playing with my best friends and my teammates. I think it also paid off because we won the state championship. …I didn’t want to draw any more attention to myself. I didn’t want to cause a distraction and the result turned out the way that I wanted it to.” CBA athletic director Buddy Wleklinski, who is also the head boys basketball coach, noted that the press conference was called in an effort to finally address the speculation surrounding Paulus’ future as it had been reported nationwide from newspapers to recruiting services to internet message boards.

“The speculation was out there whether or not he was going to play football or basketball. The fact that there had not been any public signing of a letter of intent was opening the door for football,” said Wleklinski. “There were things written all over the internet and even in the Syracuse newspapers, and I thought Greg handled it very well. No one really knew what to make of it.” Given the Manlius native’s football credentials, it is little wonder that some thought him certain to return to the gridiron. Playing in CBA’s spread offense, Paulus accumulated a New York State high school record 3,019 yards in 2002 and then broke his own record this past season as he racked up 3,301 yards. Paulus generated 11,384 passing yards and 149 touchdowns in his four years as CBA’s quarterback.

But the state’s most gifted quarterback may also be its most gifted point guard. In spite of the rich history of New York City point guards, Manlius in bucolic central New York has borne this year’s top man in that spot. By last year’s press conference, Paulus had narrowed his prospective schools to Notre Dame, Xavier, Syracuse, and Duke. In each case, he was only interested in playing hoops. Some speculation saw the coaching change at Notre Dame as a possible reason for the press conference. But Paulus noted that the coaching change had, in fact, only served to enforce his satisfaction at picking Duke basketball over the football program he had grown up admiring. “When I went out there [Notre Dame], I just didn’t get the same feeling that I did when I went to Duke,” he said. “When I was little, I always wanted to go to Notre Dame, but then it happened. As I was growing up, I found a new dream. And the new dream was to play basketball at Duke and that’s just the way it turned out.”

When asked what makes Paulus a special basketball player, Wleklinski uses language that has become synonymous with the senior point guard in scouting evaluations. “He just sees the floor so well and he’s a leader. A lot of the qualities that make him a good quarterback also make him great point guard,” the coach said. “He can see the floor, he’s unselfish, he’s got great leadership qualities. All of that stuff is what makes him a good point guard.”

Paulus’ football coach, Joe Casamento, knows that Paulus is a special football player. But the passion that Paulus has for the hard court is just not there when it comes to football. “When we did talk, we put down a lot of positives and negatives on both sides, and what it really came down to was the one ingredient that was key and was missing from football was the passion,” Casamento said. “Everything else was there, but it’s very, very difficult to practice five or six hours a day in college week after week if you don’t love it, if it’s not your first love. You might love it, but if it’s not your first love, you might be wishing you were doing something else and you’re never going to be as good as you can be and it becomes a chore.” Paulus said that when he visited Duke, he knew he was home. Coach Mike Krzyzewski had a little to do with it too.

“I love Coach K,” Paulus said. “He’s an unbelievable man and he’s a great coach. I think we have the perfect relationship going. He knew everything that was going on and I called and told him my feelings and opinions and he was right there for support. We never lost contact and he was there in support the whole time.”

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