If you turned on the Duke-Purdue game last night in the second half, you probably saw a familiar situation. Greg Paulus was running the point, getting the ball to Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer, the team's playmakers. When he wasn't doing that, Paulus was knocking down some jumpers, and finished with a respectable seven points in 22 minutes.
What you didn't catch is Paulus holding down the bench as the starters took the Mackey Arena floor to start the game. Sophomore Nolan Smith has taken the reigns at point guard for Mike Krzyzewski while Paulus, the face of Duke basketball, and a three-year starter, is coming off the bench to contribute.
If you don't know Paulus' story you don't really know what a freak this guy was. A high school product out of Syracuse, N.Y., Paulus was a star athlete in both basketball and football -- and when I say star, I mean, like, four stars. He was a specimen, a quarterback that could have picked just about any big-time football program over Duke basketball and been throwing passes before anyone realized what he'd done.
As as senior at Christian Brothers Academy, Paulus lead his football team to its first Class AA state title, a perfect 13-0 record and was named the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year, an award shared with the likes of Peyton Manning and Emmitt Smith. In his junior year, Paulus tossed 29 touchdowns, and then threw for 43 touchdowns as a senior.
Scout.com had Paulus ranked ninth at the quarterback position, ahead of Texas' Colt McCoy, Hawaii's former star QB Colt Brennan and Missouri's Chase Daniel.
Now Paulus is riding the bench in basketball, mostly for his defensive liabilities that caused the Blue Devils to be exposed around the perimeter during the last two NCAA Tournaments. Paulus isn't going to play in the NBA. In fact, he'd probably be lucky to play in Europe. So was Duke the right decision? Nobody will ever know. Rankings for high school are what you make of them. Sometimes they are spot on, sometimes they miss by a mile.
But one thing is for sure -- being a quarterback for any big university around the nation has to be better than sixth man for Duke. Not Even Coach K could convince me otherwise.