Professional athletes spend their entire lives looking forward to draft day. The event doesn’t always turn out as planned, though. For every player who gets selected by his favorite team, there are plenty more who sit on pins and needles, desperately waiting for someone to announce their name. Golden State Warriors forward Eric Paschall ended up in the latter category.
That adversity, however, turned into a positive. Paschall and his father had a simple draft day conversation; those words have set the stage for the young forward’s NBA success.
Eric Paschall’s path to the NBA
While Eric Paschall made a name for himself at Villanova, he actually started his NCAA career further north. The native of North Tarrytown, New York, played his freshman season at Fordham University; he averaged 15.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game but transferred after head coach Tom Pecora lost his job.
Paschall headed to Philadelphia and joined the Villanova Wildcats. While he missed the team’s 2016 National Championship following his transfer, he used that time to adjust to Jay Wright’s system; that effort didn’t immediately pay off—the forward only started eight games the following season—but it eventually paid dividends. As a junior, Paschall became a starter and posted 10.6 points and 5.3 rebounds a night en route to an NCAA title. During his senior year, the forward’s output increased even further.
Scouts considered Paschall “a strong, athletic forward with impressive explosiveness and battle-tested versatility,” but that didn’t translate until success at the draft. In fact, the forward saw himself slipping into the second round.
One draft night conversation changed everything
Going into the 2019 NBA draft, Eric Paschall hoped to be picked in the first round. After returning to school for his senior year, he had plenty of NCAA experience, including a national championship, but things didn’t go as planned.
With each passing pick, Paschall’s dream of going in the first round became more and more unlikely. Once the second round began, prospects didn’t seem any brighter. Eventually, the forward’s name was called around 11 o’clock at night. The Golden State Warriors selected him 41st overall; that reality, however, quickly turned into motivation.
“On the night of the draft, he was visibly upset being picked 41st,” Paschall’s dad, Juan, told Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. “He said, ‘Dad, I think I’m better than them.’ I said, ‘Go prove it. Make picks No. 1 through 40 feel like you felt when you were picked No. 41.”
Eric Paschall is well on his way to proving it
While the 2019-20 NBA season hasn’t been kind to the Golden State Warriors, Eric Paschall has seized his opportunity. With Kevin Durant in Brooklyn and both Steph Curry and Klay Thompson on the shelf, the rookie has gotten a chance to shine.
So far this season, Paschall has appeared in 50 games, starting in just under half of them. He’s averaging 13.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per outing, all while gaining valuable experience. Next season, the Warriors should be playing more meaningful games; Paschall looks like he’ll be a key complement to Curry and Klay.
On draft night, Eric Paschall’s father told him to prove he should have been picked earlier. Through the first half of his rookie season, the forward is doing just that.