From Division I to Division II. The ACC to the Mountain East Conference. Syracuse Orange to Fairmont State Fighting Falcons. No matter how you slice it, Brendan Paul's path to Joe Retton Arena is unparalleled and it was paved by passion and connections.
The former Syracuse guard committed to Fairmont State men's basketball earlier this month after spending two seasons as a preferred walk-on for the Orange. Last year during his sophomore season he logged just nine minutes of action with one three coming against Pittsburgh.
Paul is a childhood friend of MEC freshman of the year, Fairmont State point guard Dale Bonner. The two grew up in the same town of Shaker Heights Ohio and played on the same team in middle school.
"He's just the most humble and nicest kid," Paul said on Bonner. "Now that we are both in parts of our lives that we fully developed and ready to go I think its going to be really fun [to play together.]"
He also met current Fairmont State head coach Tim Koenig last summer at open gyms at Koenig's former school, Notre Dame college. The two kept in contact as Paul was in the NCAA transfer portal beginning in the fall. Koenig's pitch on Fairmont was pretty clear.
"Like Syracuse, we are the show. It's a smaller scale and the arena is smaller, but we have people that come and watch our practices every single day."
Those two relationships, and the prospect of playing time, were strong enough to lure Paul away from Division I offers such as Toledo, Kent State and Cleveland State and take the Division II route.
He also had the option to return to Syracuse and Coach Jim Boeheim for his junior season on a full ride, but with a smaller chance of playing time. Instead, Paul will pack up the lessons he learned from the Hall of Famer and bring them to Fairmont.
"I've seen basketball at the highest level and been coached by someone who has over 1,000 wins. I know what it takes to win and the work you have to put in. I just want to be able to go share that with other people."