Jonathan Givony: Hey there Chris, thanks for agreeing to do this with us. What have you been up to since that incredible game against West Virginia in the NCAA tournament?
Chris Paul: Decisions, decisions, decisions
Jonathan Givony: I'm sure that was a tough call, you made up your mind about a month ago or so?
Chris Paul: Oh yeah, now I'm good. I'm in DC right now just training, working out, trying to get ready for the draft.
Jonathan Givony: So after the tournament, did you still watch all the games or did you lose interest after that?
Chris Paul: I watched the games, it was extremely tough, but I actually went out to Saint Louis for the final four.
Jonathan Givony: Oh cool. Were you rooting for anybody in the tournament after you guys lost?
Chris Paul: I was up there for the Naismith award. While I was out there, I am pretty good friends with Rashad McCants, so he gave me tickets for the game.
Jonathan Givony: Lucky you. So as a point guard, what did you think of the matchup between Raymond Felton and Deron Williams? Did it live up to the hype for you?
Chris Paul: Oh yeah, it was a great matchup. They led their teams to the ultimate game. Carolina just came up with the big win, but I really like both of them. They are both great players.
Jonathan Givony: How did you feel about your individual performance in the tournament? Were you satisfied with it?
Chris Paul: No, I am disappointed. I would have liked to lead my team to the final four, and get the opportunity to play on that stage. That was the first final four I ever experienced. It's something that I'll never forget. Just how many people come out to see those gamesthat's something that sits with you.
Jonathan Givony: So how was this year, your sophomore season, different from your freshman season?
Chris Paul: I kinda had a target on my back.
Jonathan Givony: You definitely did. A lot more media exposure.
Chris Paul: Yeah a whole lot more media exposure. It was a lot of fun. We would come in there every game, and everyone would give you their best shot. I learned a lot of different things between my freshman and sophomore year. I think that came from my coach too, who really helped me and developed me into the player that I am. And I really appreciate that.
Jonathan Givony: So what was the best advice you received during the decision making period between the end of the season and declaring for the draft?
Chris Paul: I think that you have to be a little selfish. I remember when Wake Forest was recruiting me to go to college, and coach Prosser was telling me that when all the different schools come to recruit you, you need to be a little selfish and try to decide on a school that's best for you. I think that came into my decision regarding whether to stay or go. That I had to be a little selfish and try to make the best decision that is best for me and my family.
Jonathan Givony: So looking back at the decision a month later or so, are you 100% at peace with your decision to declare for the draft?
Chris Paul: Absolutely yes. I was 100% once I made the decision. I felt like that's the way you need to be. If I was 90%/10% I probably would have went back to school, but when you make a decision that has this type of impact on yourself and on your family, you have to be 100% sure. And you can't look back.
Jonathan Givony: Did you expect another 100 or 120 players to follow in your footsteps and declare after you? Have you been kind of surprised by how many people have declared for the draft?
Chris Paul: I really didn't expect that, but I am just surprised by how many guys are entering the draft. Everyone has their dreams and aspirations to play in the NBA, you can't really knock guys for trying. It's just going to be really interesting to see what happens.
Jonathan Givony: Oh I totally agree. Real interesting. A lot of ACC guys on that list, Shavlik Randolph and Von Wafer and some other guys; it's really going to be interesting to see how the conference ends up looking next year. It was an amazing conference this year, but there are going to be a lot of great and not so great players leaving.
Chris Paul: Right, but the ACC is going to be just fine. They bring great players in year in and year out. I know that our team is going to be just fine. Justin Gray is going to bring that leadership
Jonathan Givony: I'm sure he's looking forward to being the starting PG and running the show rather than being just a spot up shooter on the wing.
Chris Paul: Oh, he's ready.
Jonathan Givony: He's probably going to have some draft aspirations himself next year after he graduates, no?
Chris Paul: Exactly. And that's what he's working hard on right now, putting himself in a position to get drafted high next year.
Jonathan Givony: Do you have any time at all to follow what's going on in basketball? How much free time do you have on your hands now?
Chris Paul: I don't have much time to do much of anything now. I train from 8:30 in the morning to 10, and then I lift and do agility for like two and a half hours. But I actually did get to catch game 5 of the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets series. I also went to go see the Wizards and Heat in that last game of theirs the other night.
Jonathan Givony: So what kind of drills are you doing that are a little bit different from college to prepare yourself for NBA workouts and the NBA itself?
Chris Paul: A lot of different things. I think some of the drills are a little bit similar, but I think the intensity and speed changes enormously when you are preparing for the NBA. So many different things come into play, and precision is a huge key. Guys will try to knock you off balance and stuff like that, so you need to be prepared. Cone drills, ball-handling, two ball dribbling, a lot of shooting and different things like that.
Jonathan Givony: Are you working with any draft prospects next to you?
Chris Paul: Right now I'm working with Jose Juan Barea. He hasn't hired an agent, but he's preparing for the draft.
Jonathan Givony: What's the gameplan in terms of workouts. Have you guys talked about that already?
Chris Paul: No, we haven't talked about that yet. We are waiting to see what happens with the lottery on Tuesday.
Jonathan Givony: Are you planning on working out for anyone that wants to see you, or is it just going to be a limited number of teams?
Chris Paul: It depends. We are going to talk about it. We'll know everything after the lottery.
Jonathan Givony: Are you willing to go up against anybody if they want to schedule a workout with you? Let's say a team with a top five pick wanted to schedule a workout with you, Raymond Felton, Deron Williams and Jarrett Jackwould you be down for that?
Chris Paul: (laughs) That's something we'd have to talk about. I'm not sure about the logistics right now.
Jonathan Givony: I'm sure a lot of college basketball fans will be reading this and salivating at the mouth at what an amazingly intense workout that could be. The four of you guys in one gym going up against each otherdamn.
Chris Paul: That would be unbelievable. I'm doing a lot of training with a guy named Idan Ravin, he's a skills coach.
Jonathan Givony: How are you going to measure out in shoes at the combines in Chicago?
Chris Paul: I think I'm about 6 foot. About 6 foot even.
Jonathan Givony: What are you hearing about your draft stock? Any feedback you've been getting from NBA teams?
Chris Paul: Hopefully top five. Not a clue, but you know, just the buzz you hear. But I still have to prove myself, so that's kind of irrelevant.
Jonathan Givony: Ever been on ?
Chris Paul: Yeah, I've been on there before. You guys do a real good job. My computer isn't working right now in the hotel, though, so I really don't know what's up. At school I am always on the internet.
Jonathan Givony: In terms of the draft, how would staying in North Carolina make you feel?
Chris Paul: I couldn't complain. Whoever drafts me. Just to have the opportunity to play a game that I would play for free. It's unbelievable, I can't even explain it. I'm just so excited to be in this position.
Jonathan Givony: The Bobcats for example have two lottery picks. Before the lottery is conducted they have #3 and #13. If you were Bernie Bickerstaff and you could choose who to draft to play next to you, who would you take?
Chris Paul: (laughs) I don't know. That's a hard question. You have so many guys in the draft this year, you could choose a number of guys and be just fine.
Jonathan Givony: To us it's interesting because we watch these guys on TV or from the stands, but you've actually played against a lot of them and know what they are like on the court, off the court, and all that. You know if these guys can play or not.
Chris Paul: Right. It all depends what each team needs. That's why next Tuesday [the lottery] is so important. That's really going to help guys start feeling each other out. But I wouldn't mind playing for whoever got the number one pick. (laughs)
Jonathan Givony: I'm sure. So what do you think is going to be your main obstacle to overcome for you to be an all-star caliber player in the NBA?
Chris Paul: I think the biggest key to being successful in the NBA is consistency. Guys at times will have 30 one game, and then the next game get like 5 points. I think that's really what makes a great player... Consistency. Just watching Steve Nash this year has been un-believe-able. Just to see how hard he plays. He just plays to win all the time and he always gives it his all.
Jonathan Givony: Do you think that consistency is more of a mental thing, or is it more physical?
Chris Paul: I think it's a little bit of both. There's so much that goes into it, playing in the NBA, that I'm going to have to learn. I don't know what it's like to be an NBA player. Traveling and all the business that goes into it. I am sure that there are a lot of things that can distract you from what you are supposed to be doing. That's a sign of a great player, overcoming those distractions and taking care of business.
Jonathan Givony: So how are you preparing yourself for those distractions? Is there anything that you have in mind?
Chris Paul: Just being grounded. Staying humble. Realizing that there's nothing that I'm doing that's so greatit's all God. I strongly believe that God put me in this position and all I can do is be thankful for it. Also, my older brother that just graduated, he's going to live with me in whatever city I end up going to. He played basketball in college too. So wherever I go, he's coming with me, as my personal assistant or however you want to call it.
Jonathan Givony: That's great. Keep it in the family. So Chris, have you given any thought to the fact that the average NBA PG is usually about 6-2 or 6-3 or maybe even bigger than that like a Jason Kidd who is 6-4? How much of an issue do you think your height is going to be in the NBA?
Chris Paul: The way I'm thinking, I don't see it being a problem. How tall is Steve Nash?
Jonathan Givony: Like 6-2 I think, maybe listed at 6-3.
Chris Paul: Nooo, Steve Nash isn't 6-3. He's like 6-1, and he got MVP of the league this year.
Jonathan Givony: I guess you're right, I never thought of that.
Chris Paul: I talk to Muggsy Bogues pretty often. If Muggsy can be successful in the league, then it's possible for anybody.
Jonathan Givony: So you think your heart is going to determine more than your size?
Chris Paul: Oh definitely. Look at Earl Boykins. I don't know how tall he is. 5 foot nuthin, I don't know. He's a great player. It's not about size. It's about heart and having that drive to do the best you can.
Jonathan Givony: Let's say hypothetically you woke up tomorrow and all of a sudden you were 6-4. How much better of a player do you think you would be?
Chris Paul: (laughs) If I grew tomorrow to 6-4? I would be a great player because I'd come through the lane leaning and trying to dunk on everyone. But right now that's not my game. I have to do the best I can with what I have.
Jonathan Givony:You mentioned a few guys already, but are there any other players in the NBA that you look at and try to learn from in terms of how they play and how they handle themselves on the court?
Chris Paul: Oh yeah. Jason Kidd, the way he distributes the ball. I really love Ray Allen's personality. He lets his game speak for itself. He really doesn't say much going up and down the court, but you look at the boxscore and he did a little bit of everything. There are so many guys out there in the league that play so hardLebron. He's just a freak of nature.
Jonathan Givony: So as a PG, what kind of player do you prefer having next to you, a deadeye shooter like Ray Allen who you can drive and kick it out to for a guaranteed three pointer, or a big man who you can throw the ball inside to who will either come up with the basket or kick it back out to you for a three?
Chris Paul: If I could play with someone? Give me Shaq. I want Shaq. Shaq is the most dominant player to play the game. He is ridiculous. Just give me Shaq.
Jonathan Givony: (laughs) So what's your favorite move on the basketball court? A beautiful assist for an easy bucket, or a sick one on one move to get to the basket and score with the foul?
Chris Paul: A beautiful assist. That's fun, to make a move on a guy, and he'll lean the other way and you make a pass and the other guy dunks it, that's like the best play that I think I can have.
Jonathan Givony: You played in what was definitely the best conference in the NCAA this year in terms of PG's, going up against terrific competition at your position basically every single game. We can watch from the side and imagine what it's like to check someone like Jarrett Jack for example, but what kind of matchup is he?
Chris Paul: VERY tough. I'm good friends with Jarrett, but once we step out on that court there's none of that buddy buddy stuff. You're trying to win for your team, and it's not anything personal, just the competitive nature that basketball players have within them. It's nerve-racking actually. Believe it or not, before that ball is thrown up, you're waiting for the TV people to say toss it up and you get NERVOUS. I had so many butterflies in my stomach. I think it comes from just wanting to succeed. I'm so nervous until that ball is thrown up.
Jonathan Givony: So who would you say is your toughest matchup in the ACC out of Jack, Felton, Gilchrist, Hodge, Singletary?There are a lot of great PG's out there, huh?
Chris Paul: You can't say one of them, because there are too many of them. They all bring something different to the game. Jarrett brings strength and savviness, while Raymond brings his crazy speed. John Gilchrist is sort of herky-jerky and always has you on his heels. I think that's kind of the same thing that Singletary brought to the table. You never knew what he was going to do.
Jonathan Givony: I like that kid Singletary. He doesn't get a lot of press right now because of the sheer volume of PG's in the ACC, but I think that people are really going to fall in love with him next year and he might help fill that void that will be left by the top 5 PG's in the ACC leaving for the NBA. He didn't get on TV a lot, but he kind of reminds me of you a little bit. Not quite as naturally skilled in any facet of the game just yet, but he's small, really quick, smart, has a good feel for the game, he can get to the basket, stroke it a little, great at finding the open man and he's got a ton of heart. You can tell that he loves to compete.
Chris Paul: Exactly.
Jonathan Givony: What about Deron Williams? You ever gone up against him?
Chris Paul: Yeah. Oh yeah. We were together pretty much this whole past summer. Me, Justin Gray, Deron and Dee Brown. We were at the Nike camp together, out in Santa Barbara working together with Michael Jordan. Deron's nice. He made Michael Jordan fall over in California. Dribbling the ball up the court. He probably wouldn't tell you that, but he made him fall.
Jonathan Givony: So right now you are ranked as the #1 PG in this draft. What do you think separates you from Felton and Williams?
Chris Paul: I don't know. I have no clue. They are great players and I guess I am just honored to be there. I just need to keep working hard, taking things one day at a time. You know being put in that position, the only place you can go right now is down. So I just need to keep working as hard as I can. When you are resting, someone is always out there working harder.
Jonathan Givony: I noticed that you conspicuously left off Julius Hodge when we were talking about the ACC PG'sany thoughts about what happened there in the regular season? Have you guys patched things up?
Chris Paul: I don't talk with Julius. When it ended, that was the end of that. I wish him the best of luck with whatever he's doing.
Jonathan Givony: Any plans on finishing up your degree while you're in the NBA during the off-season?
Chris Paul: Oh yeah. I have like 40, 40 something credits left. Hopefully if it works out the way I would like it to, I can get some credits out of the way and if possible I feel like I could walk in '07 like when I was supposed to.
Jonathan Givony: Wow, that would be pretty amazing. So you only have like 3 semesters left or something like that.
Chris Paul: Right. Something like that.
Jonathan Givony: Any specific goals that you have for your rookie season? Something that you are planning on accomplishing as a rook?
Chris Paul: Definitely. Rookie of the year, and hopefully lead my teamto a lot more wins then we had the previous year. Hopefully make it to the playoffs and go from there.
Jonathan Givony: What type of coach would you prefer? An authoritarian or a player's coach? Which would better suit your playing style?
Chris Paul: I've actually had the opportunity to have both sides of that. The coach usually tells the PG, he's the extension of him out there on the court. Whatever team drafts me, I am sure I will build a great relationship with my coach. We'll just see how he wants to play.
Jonathan Givony: Have you given any thought to the notion of having to check a guy like Dwyane Wade or Stephon Marbury next year?
Chris Paul: Yeah, I've actually thought about that. Watching the playoffs now, and being in the position that I'm in, trying to make it to the NBA, I'll have to be ready for that. Watching Dwyane Wadethat'll be a tough cover, but you have to do what you have to do and you just have to prepare for it.
Jonathan Givony: Do you think you are going to be the type of player that is excellent on both ends of the floor? Do you think it would be possible for you to make an all-defensive team and lead the league in assists at the same time like Jason Kidd did?
Chris Paul: Oh yeah, anything is possible. You have to set your goals high. It's all about how hard you work. You can only get out what you put into it. And I think that's what separates great players. Guys that just constantly work and are always trying to get better and never be satisfied.
Jonathan Givony: Thanks a bunch Chris. I think you've answered all of our questions. Was there any one question that the media always asked you this year that maybe didn't come up in this interview?
Chris Paul: A lot of people would ask me if I was leaving for the money. A lot of people think that, when that just wasn't the case. That's so far from the truth. My mom and dad both have jobs and they work I wasn't really pressing for money. It's all for the love of the game. It was never going to be me leaving just for the money. I had never played for money before. I love the game and that's just how it is.
Jonathan Givony: Chris, I really appreciate your time. That was a very informative interview and I hope your fans will enjoy it. I wish you the best of luck in the draft and in the league man. I think you are going to do well with that attitude.
Chris Paul: Thanks a lot Jonathan. I appreciate it. You know when it might be up?
Jonathan Givony: Hopefully within two days or so, after the early entry deadline. You gotta get yourself some internet access man, you have a lot to catch up on on DraftExpress, we've been doing some crazy coverage over the past week.
Chris Paul: It only shut down a couple of days ago, so I been keeping up.
Jonathan Givony: Cool man. We will see you in Chicago at media day probably. Be good until then.
Chris Paul: OK I be there.
Jonathan Givony: Have fun.
Chris Paul: Thanks.