There is more to sophomore guard Josh Paul than meets the eye. His 6-foot-6-inch frame may be intimidating to some at first, but he is soft-spoken, and he wears a smile everywhere he goes. He has a heart for children, which is why he is majoring in middle childhood education. Having recently made the move from JV to varsity, Paul is not only a good athlete, but a good teammate as well.
Hailing from Katy, Texas, Paul is blessed with an athletic body, long arms and big hands. In his first two years at Cedarville, he developed a reputation as an athletic basketball player. In intramurals and pick-up games, Paul would sail in for monster dunks and emphatic blocks.
Current JV player Ryan Miller summed Paul up in a few words.
“He is a freak athlete,” Miller said. “Josh always rebounds well and works hard on the court, and does it all with a calm, quiet demeanor.”
It was his athleticism and talent that got people excited about seeing him play in organized basketball games. Peter Venman, a friend of Paul’s, said he was impressed when he played with Paul.
“Josh is very gifted athletically and he uses that when attacking the hoop and when he gets out in transition,” Venman said. “He is a pesky and determined defender, he uses his long arms to his advantage.”
After encouragement from JV players and his friends, Paul attended the JV basketball tryout this past spring and made the JV team.
Paul’s older brother, Quinton played varsity tennis at Cedarville and graduated this past May. Paul said his brother had a big impact on his formation as a basketball player.
“Quinton and I played one on one all the time,” Paul said. “He got me to play tougher and playing against someone older really helped.”
Paul played high school basketball for the Homeschool Christian Youth Association based in the Houston area. He said this experience was difficult.
“I had never played a home game in my life until college,” he said, “and we played a lot in high school, 40 games a season, all on the road.”
Paul said this intense atmosphere in high school taught him what it meant to work hard in practice for the course of a season, not just game to game.
A few weeks into the fall semester, Pat Estepp, head coach of the men’s basketball team, was looking for a JV player to step up and contribute for varsity.
“I asked our JV coach, Zach Brown, ‘Who’s the best guy to move up? Who can defend, can athletically hang with our guys and make them better?’” Estepp said, “and Josh was the one guy mentioned. Josh has a tremendous upside. He’s really raw, but he’s probably as athletic as anybody we’ve got on our team.”
Paul said he remembered the day that he got called up.
“One day the coaches were looking for some guys to play five on five, and there were injuries,” he said. “I played and after practice they asked me to be a part of the team for the year.”
As far as his role on Cedarville’s basketball team this season, Paul is not a main player, but he has been looking for ways to help his team in practice throughout the long college season. One thing he has been working on is being more vocal.
“If I see a guy in a particular situation, it’s my job to tell them what I see,” he said. “It’s also my job to make them a better player during practice in things like one-on-one drills.”
Although Paul is athletic, Estepp said he saw some areas where Paul could improve. One of these areas is his weight. Weighing in at 160 pounds, he is the lightest guy on the team despite being one of the taller players. But another area in need of change is his attitude on the court.
“Josh is a really nice kid. That’s a great thing, but it’s also sometimes a little bit of a hindrance,” Estepp said. “You’ve got to have a little nasty side to you to compete, and we see that every once in a while in him.”
Varsity student assistant Nate Hughes notices this in Josh.
“Josh is a team-first player,” Hughes said. “He is humble and kind to everyone he comes into contact with. He cares more about others than himself.”
Dave Guidone is a junior social studies education major and sports reporter for Cedars. His hobbies include eating, snacking, shooting hoops and laughing. Hebrews 13:8