Warriors rookie Eric Paschall wasn’t selected until the No. 41 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, but his collegiate head coach, Villanova’s Jay Wright, always knew the forward's game was a better fit for the NBA.
In a recent Q&A with The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, Wright opened up about his former power forward and how integral he was to the Wildcats’ two NCAA championships in three years.
After transferring to Villanova from Fordham University after his freshman season, Paschall was forced to sit out the 2015-16 season per NCAA rules.
"Then in 2016, the season he sat out, ’15-’16, he was on the same (scout) team as Donte DiVincenzo (currently on the Milwaukee Bucks),” Wright told Slater. “They were both sitting out. So it was a funny year for us because we’d come out of practice sometimes — we couldn’t stop those two — and we would think, as a staff, ‘man, we must not be that good, we can’t even stop the second team.’ We just didn’t realize at the time those two would be pros.
“It really made our team successful that year in 2016. We had really competitive practices. Those two really made that 2016 team what it was.”
Wright also spoke about how Paschall’s overpowering strength forced Villanova to adjust its gameplan down the stretch of games.
“He was stronger than everyone,” Wright said. “He’d go to the rim and they’d hammer him and it wouldn’t knock him off his line. It wouldn’t knock off his balance, but he was getting crushed and they wouldn’t call it. I would just try to plead with the refs, like, ‘don’t penalize him for being stronger than everyone.’
"They would call offensive fouls on him because people would just go flying off of him, but they weren’t in legal guarding position, to the point where we couldn’t call isolations at the end of the game for him because we were afraid he wouldn’t get a foul called and they would call an offensive foul on him.”
The two-time champion coach also foresaw Paschall’s more comfortable fit in an NBA offense, where defenses are much more spread out.
“We always thought once he got to the NBA and there was more space and teams wouldn’t double and triple him, that he would be more effective,” Wright said. “We’re kind of seeing that right now. It’s nice to see it come to fruition.”
The rookie certainly has made his mark in the NBA so far, as Paschall is the first Warriors rookie since Steph Curry to register back-to-back 25-point games.