The Golden State Warriors may be experiencing a disappointing season, but there is one bright spot in their midst. Eric Paschall was a relatively unknown player heading into a draft dominated by Zion Williamson. He saw 40 names called before his own in the draft.
Now, with Williamson yet to play a game, Paschall is having a Rookie-of-the-Year-type season. And he can thank changes to his fitness for getting him there.
Eric Paschall’s rise at Villanova
According to GQ, Paschall was a skinny kid who could dunk when he was 12. While he put a lot of hard work into this, he could also get away with a not-so-healthy diet. By the time Paschall got to college, he began seeing that his diet and workout would need to change as he got older.
The forward claimed that he’d never hit the weight room up until college. Even then, Paschall didn’t have to do so until he transferred from Fordham University to Villanova after one year.
In that single season at Fordham, Paschall averaged nearly 16 points, five rebounds, and one assist per game. When he transferred, he struggled to get back to his form. What happened is what Paschall claims made him into an NBA player.
“Once I got to Villanova, it was like a complete 180 that summer, in terms of how to eat and how to condition your body,” Paschall said. “That’s something I took a lot of pride in. I saw what that could do to my body and also how it made me feel.”
Paschall learns fitness
Once Paschall learned about the value of hitting the weight room, he started taking his fitness very seriously and gaining muscle in the process. “My strength and conditioning coach did a great job of teaching me,” he said. “I also hadn’t done core work before. I started doing a lot of heavy lifting and cardio.”
Paschall claims the naturally competitive environment of a locker room helped motivate himself and his teammates to take it seriously. According to Paschall, however, he was lifting the heaviest weights by the end of his time there.
At Villanova, Paschall had to take one year off as a transfer student. When he playing in the 2016-17 season, however, he had to adjust to a smaller role. By his final year, Paschall was putting up 17 points per game, six rebounds, and two assists. It was his best year as a college player. He began showing what it takes to be an NBA big man.
Paschall heads to the NBA
After his college career, Paschall immediately adjusted his workouts to the NBA. With an 82-game season on the horizon, if he was going to make it, he had to adjust not only his weight-room workouts but his diet.
“I’ll eat some light carbs, but otherwise, I’ll stay away from them, because I don’t digest them as well,” Paschall said. “I’m pretty disciplined about that stuff. After practice, they’ll usually make us something like salmon with broccoli and squash. If you want carbs they have sweet potatoes — lighter stuff.”
On top of this, he’s replaced a lot of beef and pork with lighter meats like chicken and turkey. Paschall also substitutes an athlete favorite, Gatorade, with water and sparkling water. To keep his muscles ready and avoid soreness, he also tries to keep his light workouts consistent.
Paschall looks forward
Paschall’s fitness routine must be working. Through his first 33 games, he’s putting up 14 points per game, nearly five rebounds, and a pair of assists. He even shows some inklings of a three-point shot.
The 23-year-old’s role is inflated due to the Warriors’ injuries, but for a team seeking the next big pieces when Steph Curry and Klay Thompson return, a strong rookie campaign could prepare him for life when the team has renewed expectations of excellence.
Paschall is a testament to the fact that a draft position doesn’t always dictate an NBA player. His hard work and adjustments to his lifestyle helped carve a path to the pros. Where it goes from here is anyone’s guess, but if Paschall continues his growth, he will surprise people along the way.
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