OAKLAND -- Within minutes of being drafted by the Warriors last Thursday night, Eric Paschall received a text message from one of his new teammates. That it came from Draymond Green is startlingly appropriate.
Not only because both fit the definition of an undersized power forward. Or that both displayed relentless energy at elite college programs. Or that both played the maximum four years in college. Or that both were drafted by the Warriors -- in the second round.
As much as those factors matter, there is reason to believe the Warriors hope to groom Paschall to become Green’s replacement. There’s no way to know how long such a process will take, or even if it will come to pass, but it has to be the plan because one other similarity is too evident to ignore.
They both obsess over slights. Green still can recall, with more annoyance than bitterness, the 34 players selected before him in the 2012 draft. That same attitude surfaces when Paschall recalls being 15th on a list of New York prep players six years ago.
“I can remember most of them,” he said Monday, after the Warriors introduced their rookies. “I’m not going to say them. But I remember where I had that picture, where I had that list, and I remember most of those guys.”
Young Dubs. pic.twitter.com/E1RqiiWg51— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) June 24, 2019
A little research determined Paschall was ranked 16th among players with New York City roots coming out of high school, 55th among players in the Northeast and 65th among all prep power forwards.
On another list, he was ranked as the 25th-best power forward in the class of 2014. For comparison’s sake, Kevon Looney was No. 2 and Jordan Bell was No. 14.
Mostly ignored by schools from power conferences, Paschall landed at Fordham under coach Tom Pecora. Paschall, as a 6-foot-6 guard, made 27 starts and led the Rams in scoring (15.9 points per game). He was named the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year.
But when Pecora was fired, Paschall wanted out. His freshman season at Fordham was impressive enough to allow him to upgrade to Villanova, a regular in the NCAA Tournament, coached by Jay Wright.
“When I said I was going to go to Villanova, a lot of people said I shouldn’t go there,” Paschall recalled. “I did. And feel like I made the most of that situation. But they felt like I wouldn’t play. Some people felt like I wasn’t good enough to play there.
“That’s how my whole life has been.”
Green is legendary for his need to prove he belongs. Paschall sees himself as cut from similar cloth.
“I’ve always been the underdog -- my whole life,” he said. “I always try to keep that chip on my shoulder, just to keep myself going. I’ve always felt like I’ve been overlooked. And whomever gives me an opportunity, I try to make the most of it.”
Paschall’s father, Juan, recalls that being the case in high school and AAU basketball. The slights always had to be proven wrong.
“I definitely saw that in him, and it sticks with him today,” Juan Paschall said. “He’s always been somewhat of an underdog. Even when he played in high school, and he was the New York state Class B Player of the Year, it was ‘because he was playing at a small school.’ “
NCAA men’s basketball gets no better than Villanova. The Wildcats won two of the last four National Championships, with Paschall forced to watch as a redshirt transfer in 2016 before being an integral member of the group that cut down the nets in 2018.
The kid that wasn’t good enough kept piling up proof to the contrary. He owned the weight room and now stood 6-8, 250 pounds. He made 38 starts as a junior at ‘Nova. In a 95-79 win over Kansas in the national semifinal, Paschall was nearly perfect, scoring 24 points on 10-of-11 shooting. He was named to the Final Four All-Tournament team.
As a senior last season, Paschall started all 36 games, averaging 16.5 points and 6.1 rebounds at power forward and was a unanimous selection to the All-Big East First Team.
“I don’t think people realize what he had to go through to get here,” Juan Paschall said, ticking off his son’s journey. “And then, after all of that, being drafted 41st. We did not think he’d go that low.
“But the blessing is that ended up going to the Golden State Warriors. There couldn’t be a better fit. A lot of NBA teams are playing “iso” ball. Golden State does not. In fact, they used to say that Villanova plays like Golden State.”
The hope is that Paschall can contribute as a rookie. At 22, he’s considered mature. At 6-8, 250, he’s considered physical. His energy level is considered Draymond-esque.
“He’s a very animated guy, and I really like that,” Paschall said of Green. “I like his tenacity. I like his character. I like how he’s just always fired up. I definitely want to mimic him, for sure.”