Paul George is a dominant NBA player with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but before he even made the leap to the pros, he was making waves in college. George, who played two seasons with the Fresno State Bulldogs, put together a strong run with the school and left a strong impression. But apparently, he made his presence felt even before his final year in school.
As Fresno State’s official team website revealed, the forward was named to Sports Illustrated’s “Top 16 Most Entertaining Players in College Basketball.” He came in at No. 8 overall, and SI.com’s Luke Winn credited George’s dunking ability as a part of the ranking.
“His posterizing of St. Mary’s guard Mickey McConnell was one of last season’s top-five dunks — as was his slam over two Sacramento State players in the previous game,” Winn said. “Even the YouTube coverage of George’s practice dunks — of which there are a few — are extremely entertaining.”
This vote came very early in the 2009-10 season, which was his second with Fresno State and at the start of George’s encore performance to an impressive rookie year with the school. Among the names listed above him (in order) were: Greivis Vasquez (Maryland), Scottie Reynolds (Villanova), Willie Warren (Oklahoma), Chris Wright (Dayton), Luke Harangody (Notre Dame), John Wall (Kentucky), and Talor Battle (Penn State).
Coming in just behind the Bulldogs star was Washington Huskies guard Isaiah Thomas, who impressed with the Boston Celtics and currently is a member of the Denver Nuggets.
Paul George’s Impressive College Career
The current Thunder star hit the ground running during the 2008-09 season. He averaged 34.6 minutes per game and tallied 14.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. Arguably the most impressive aspect of his game that year was the fact that he shot 47.0 percent from the field and 44.7 percent from beyond the arc.
He logged the most minutes (1,176) in the entire Western Athletic Conference (WAC) while showcasing a well-rounded game in the process. Unfortunately, Fresno State finished with just a 13-21 record and failed to make the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
Although George played in fewer games (29) during his second season, he averaged 16.8 points with 7.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.2 steals. His shooting percentage did drop to 42.4 percent as he attempted more than two additional field goal attempts per game. Regardless, he had the attention of NBA scouts and made the leap to the league, forgoing his final two collegiate seasons.
George went on to be the No. 10 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers. His draft class featured the likes of John Wall (No. 1), DeMarcus Cousins (No. 5), Gordon Hayward (No. 9), Eric Bledsoe (No. 18), and Hassan Whiteside (No. 33).