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Grants McCoy follows his own path

Prep Focus • Guard chooses hoops over football; eschews comparisons to others
by: L.E. BASKOW, Grant’s Paul McCoy will pass on college football and has signed a  basketball letter of intent with Pepperdine, which just lost its coach. “I could try to come back to football if basketball’s not working out,” 
he says.

Grant senior Paul McCoy grew up without watching the great guards in Portland play basketball, live or on TV.

He never felt the urge to see Terrell Brandon or Damon Stoudamire in the NBA, or catch Brandon Brooks, Aaron Miles, Fred Jones, Salim Stoudamire, Chris Rodgers, Thomas Gardner, Mac Hopson, Chris Stephens, Darren Cooper, Omar Leary and the like tearing up the courts in city gyms.

'Pretty weird, huh?' he says. 'I'm always doing something else. I've been so busy doing all three sports (football, basketball, track and field), I usually had my own games. I saw a few games, but was never focused on it.'

Many Portland Interscholastic League basketball watchers compare McCoy to Miles, who starred at Jefferson High and Kansas and has played professionally. 'I haven't had the opportunity to see him play,' McCoy says. 'I want to be Paul McCoy instead of a little Aaron Miles.'

In other words, he wants to be the real McCoy, the Generals' star guard and a college basketball player - rather than a football player, as of now.

And, of course, he wants to play in the NBA.

McCoy also starred for the Generals in football and drew gridiron interest from Oregon, Oregon State and Boise State. In the spring, McCoy excels in jumps, sprints and relays. But these days, it's all about basketball.

The 5-11 McCoy has signed to play for Pepperdine in Malibu, Calif., conveniently located on the beach. But he will have the opportunity to change his mind with Thursday's resignation of Waves' coach Vance Walberg, who was 14-35 since becoming coach.

Walberg was under fire for poor treatment of players, but a Pepperdine official says he stepped down for 'family issues.'

McCoy was to be joined at Pepperdine by buddy Brad Tinsley of Oregon City and Ameer Shamsud-Din of Benson. But a player can request a release, and many schools accommodate him after a coaching change; a school, on the other hand, cannot rescind a letter of intent.

Pepperdine assistant coach Eric Bridgeland, who recruited McCoy, took over on an interim basis.

'I think it's going to affect Paul in a major way,' Grant coach Tony Broadous says. 'One of the main reasons he was going to go to Pepperdine was because he liked the coaching staff and felt comfortable with them; and his mom (Maria Adams) felt comfortable with them.

'This opens it back up. … I think there's going to be a lot of suitors, even though it's a little later. I've already got some calls.' But Broadous says McCoy still was committed to play basketball in college, rather than football.

The Waves had not fared well under the up-tempo guru Walberg, who liked to use five perimeter players and let them shoot 3-pointers and convert steals into layups - run and gun.

Before Walberg's resignation, McCoy says he, Tinsley and Shamsud-Din planned to make a difference there.

'I have a big heart, and I think I can take (the program) to the next level,' McCoy says. 'I think we can turn it around.

'With me, I'm running, lockup defense, steal, score, boom-boom-boom.'

He has watched the Waves on TV and says they play too slowly and are indecisive. And they have young players.

McCoy can hardly wait to team with Tinsley - if they still go to Pepperdine together. The two played on Fred Jones' AAU team last summer; Tinsley chose Pepperdine over Cal, in part to play with McCoy.

'He gets me going; we've been playing together since the fifth grade,' McCoy says. 'We have so much chemistry. I can feel him, he can feel me. I'll play 'D' well, he'll shoot the '3,' boom. Pass-pass-pass, get going.'

McCoy is Grant's floor leader. 'He controls the tempo. We go as he goes,' Broadous says. 'He's a really good defender. He's really unselfish, a good passer, good vision. He's a solid point guard.'

Like Miles, who never found an accurate stroke through his years at Jeff and Kansas, McCoy continues to work on his shot.

As far as leadership, 'Paul's getting there, but Aaron Miles was a natural leader,' says Broadous, whose Generals play at Jefferson tonight in a Class 6A/5A city showdown. 'I don't think he has the leadership ability of Aaron Miles yet.'

In fact, Broadous says McCoy's legacy will be determined by how well he leads the Generals in his senior year.

'I think he's an underrated guard in the country,' Broadous says. And, 'he's in the same league as a lot of the good guards who have come through Portland; people know Portland is a guard city and the PIL is a guard league. Whether or not he puts his name in the record books as one of the top remains to be seen. A lot will depend on how he leads this year's team.'

McCoy averaged 18 points per game last year and is averaging 15 this season. Scout.com had him rated as one of the country's top-10 senior point guards.

Gonzaga, Virginia Tech and Portland State offered McCoy scholarships in basketball, he says. Pepperdine got him, because they got on him first. The question some have is: Did McCoy choose the right sport for college?

The Ducks, Beavers and Boise State all saw some things in him for football - speed, athleticism and strength, mostly. He played cornerback and wide receiver for the Generals and was QB Andre Broadous' favorite target.

'I'm going to try basketball first (in college). I really want to focus on one sport,' he says.

The fact that Pepperdine doesn't have football helps.

He adds: 'I thought about football. It was a family decision; we talked about it, and I knew I could trust (my family). They wanted me to try basketball. … But I could try to come back to football if basketball's not working out.'