2020 has been a tough year, so as the year winds down, the Sports Central team wants to remind our viewers of all the great things we’ve seen from valley athletes and teams so far this century. Each weekday through Dec. 30 during our 6 p.m. newscasts on KSEE24 and CBS47 (and during our 11 p.m. newscasts on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), the Sports Central team is counting down the 20 best central valley sports stories over the last 20 years, something we’re calling 20 in ’20. Checking in at No. 10 on the list is the recruitment, development and rise of Paul George.
(KSEE/KGPE) — Paul George did not originally plan on becoming a Fresno State Bulldog. George, a two-star recruit, committed to Pepperdine to play for Vance Walberg.
However, a couple of months after he signed, Walberg abruptly resigned. George requested his release, and he ended up at Fresno State.
Which beat out Georgetown and Penn State for his services.
Paul George joined a program at Fresno State that was in “rebuilding mode” under Steve Cleveland. The Bulldogs, coming off of sanctions, went just 13-21 in George’s freshman season.
Early in that season, though, George showed his potential in front of a national TV audience with a thunderous dunk against Saint Mary’s. And he finished the season as the team’s second-leading scorer.
As a sophomore, both George and the Bulldogs improved.
Fresno State went from last place in the WAC to fifth place. And George, who finished in the top ten in the conference in five different categories, was named second team all-WAC.
After the season, Paul George declared for the NBA Draft. And he made history on June 24th, 2010, becoming the highest Bulldog ever drafted.
It did not take long for Paul George to develop into one of the NBA’s best two-way players.
A six-time all-star, George is also an Olympic gold medalist. And he overcame a gruesome leg injury in the summer of 2014.
In November of 2019, things came full circle for Paul George when Fresno state officially retired his No. 24 jersey at the Save Mart Center.