Wake Forest Retiring Chris Paul's Number Is Long Overdue

Griffin KurziusCorrespondent IFebruary 17, 2013

WINSTON-SALEM, NC - FEBRUARY 2:  Chris Paul #3 of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons celebrates with fans after their victory over the Duke Blue Devils during their game on February 2, 2005 at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Wake Forest defeated Duke 92-89.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Chris Paul last donned a Wake Forest jersey in 2005. It has been over eight years since he dazzled sold-out crowds of Black and Gold in the Lawrence Joel Coliseum.

No one has worn No. 3 since, and the university will formally retire CP3's jersey on March 2 against Maryland.

The decision was inevitable, but what took so long?

The local West Forsyth product and highly-touted recruit chose the Deacs over rivals UNC and Duke.

Paul was successful on the court from day one. As a freshman, he started all 31 games and led the Deacs to the Sweet 16. He averaged 14.8 points and 5.9 assists per game and was named All-ACC Freshman of the Year and National Freshman of the Year by several media outlets.

As a sophomore, Paul became more dynamic, leading Wake Forest to their first ever No. 1 ranking. CP3 developed into the best point guard and facilitator in the country, averaging 15.3 PPG and 6.6 assists. He was a consensus pick for First-Team All-American—only the fourth Deacon to do so—and earned All-ACC Defensive Honors. The Deacs finished No. 5 in the AP Poll, the second best in school history.

In only two years, he finished in the top seven in school history in three-point field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage, steals and assists.

Paul gave every indication to Coach Skip Prosser that he would return for a junior season, but once he saw his draft stock, he departed for greener pastures. Prosser had no contingency plan at point guard, so the team suffered mightily.

But who can blame Paul? He was picked fourth overall, won the Rookie of the Year Award and quickly became an NBA star. He was far superior to his ACC competition and staying at school would have hindered his development.

Regardless of how long he was on campus, Paul epitomizes everything Wake Forest University represents, a down-to-earth student-athlete.

The six-time NBA All-Star was no slouch in the classroom, maintaining a stellar 3.21 GPA at "Work Forest." He was named to the 2005 ESPN Academic All-American Team.

Some argue that Paul needs to receive his diploma before his name is eternalized in Demon Deacon history. This is in order to "uphold" the high academic standing of the university.

First of all, through his busy schedule of working out and playing on the Olympic national team, he takes summer courses at Wake with the intention of graduating. Secondly, Rodney Rogers' No. 54 hangs from the rafters even though he never graduated. Even the most revered Demon Deacon athlete ever, Arnold Palmer, never finished his schooling.

Also, CP3's presence on campus is still felt.

Paul exemplifies the school's motto Pro Humanitate "for humanity." In 2005, he established the CP3 Foundation, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, enabling a Forsyth County student to attend the university on a scholarship. The foundation has won the NBA Community Assist Award twice.

But Paul's continued impact on the basketball team cannot be overstated. Shelton Mitchell, the 20th overall recruit in the Class of 2014 verbally committed to Wake Forest over a month ago. The point guard plays on CP3's AAU team, attended his camps and views him as a role model.

Few people have put Wake Forest on the national scene and become such a positive advocate for Wake Forest University like Chris Paul.

Josh Howard's No. 5 was retired less than a year after he finished his career; why has it taken eight years for CP3?

As the Berenstain Bears always say, "It's never too late to correct a mistake."