Right now, Will Paul and his parents are packing with great excitement as they prepare to fly out to the Bay Area for his official visit to Stanford. But seven days ago, they were packing with a much more somber purpose. Hurricane Rita was headed straight for their home in Corpus Christi (Tex.).
"It was pretty scary. We saw what Katrina did to Louisiana, and Rita was a category five hurricane headed for us," Paul recalls. "We were packing on Wednesday and going to leave on Thursday morning, but then we found out that Rita lost power and headed north."
The family had boarded up the house and were ready to evacuate 150 miles south to Harlingen, a town in the southern tip of Texas near the Mexican border.
"My mom wanted to stay to be with all of our stuff, but we decided that we needed to leave," the son says. "In the end, we didn't get a drop of rain. There was a little wind, and then we unboarded the house."
"It opens your eyes to the bigger picture," Paul reflects. "There was a definite possibility we could lose our house."
One week after taking stock of her worldly possessions, Mrs. Paul is deciding whether or not she needs a jacket for the evenings she will spend this weekend in Palo Alto (Calif.). To say that the mood in the Paul household is lighter and more festive is an understatement.
The Calallen High School senior and his parents fly Thursday to the Bay Area and will spend Friday and Saturday on the official visit. Stanford is nothing new, after Paul has trekked out West to the Cardinal campus each of the last two Junes for High Potential Camp, but this trip offers the opportunity for exploration rather than basketball. Additionally, the full student body is now on campus, rather than the skeleton crew during the summer quarter.
"I'm looking forward to seeing more of the campus and definitely getting in the classroom to check out a couple classes," Paul looks ahead. "I'm also excited to get in the gym and play with the guys."
Many of the Stanford players were on campus when Paul last set foot on The Farm in late June, but he was fighting an ankle sprain that barely let him compete in games during the day. The pickup games available to him in the evening with the Cardinal players were something he had to forgo as he instead iced his ankle.
That ankle has since recovered to 100% health, allowing Paul to not only finish his summer basketball successfully, including 14-of-18 shooting from three-point range at the AAU Nationals in Orlando (Fla.), but he also has now started on his senior year of preseason strength & conditioning training at Calallen High School.
"I'm really trying to put weight on, but it's not working out. I'm still growing. Hopefully I will be done soon. I think I'll be done growing after my senior season," he describes. Will Paul was measured earlier this month at 6'9.5" in his bare feet, weighing in at 225 pounds.
"I'm trying to get quicker and more explosive through my legs. I want to put on weight without slowing me down," Paul says. "Whether I'm 6-9 or 7-1, I'm going to still be the same player. I may be getting taller, but I play the same way. I still move pretty well. It's something I only notice when we get out the tape measure."
When Paul is seen on campus this weekend, you can be sure that students and fans will take notice, whether in the classroom, in Maples Pavilion or at Stanford Stadium for Saturday's football game against Oregon. At nearly 6'10", he will be hard to miss.
Will Paul in early July became the third verbal commitment for Stanford in the 2006 recruiting class, joining the Lopez Twins. Paul has unusual shooting range and touch for his size. He excels as a face-up forward, though he is also skilled around the basket. As the Calallen senior continues to grow, so too does the legend of this supersized Stanford recruiting class - not yet done but already the biggest in physical stature in the program's history.
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