Hornets forward Darius Songaila is seven years older than Chris Paul, so even though both players starred in basketball at Wake Forest, they were never Demon Deacons teammates. Still, they met up on the court plenty of times in Winston-Salem, N.C., during the early part of this decade.
While Songaila was wrapping up a four-year career at Wake Forest, Paul was emerging as the local scholastic standout at nearby West Forsyth High. As a rising talent, Paul often joined several Demon Deacons players in summer pickup games, including Songaila.
Now a six-year NBA veteran, Songaila chuckles when he thinks back to those informal scrimmages playing with and against CP3.
I knew he was going to be a good player in college, Songaila said. But back then if you had asked me if he was going to be the best point guard in the NBA 10 years from then
I dont think anyone would have told you that. Obviously there was something there. I knew he was going to be good, but had no idea he would be this good. Im happy for him. He has come a long way.
The two players have kept in contact over the past four seasons since Pauls arrival in the NBA, often greeting each other before games.
He was around Wake all the time when I was in college, so I knew Chris pretty well, Songaila said. We just kept in touch. Every time I would see him, we would chit-chat about little things. Im sure now that were on the same team, I will get to know him and his family a little bit more.
When asked whether Songaila had a prominent role in Pauls decision to attend Wake Forest, the 31-year-old smiles.
Well, I hope that me being on the (Wake Forest) team and us making the NCAA Tournament had something to do with him wanting to come to Wake, Songaila said. Because obviously when a player goes to college, he wants to go to a program that goes to the NCAA Tournament. But me personally, I dont think (I had a direct impact) on him coming to Wake.