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Chris Paul 'really excited' for Boost Mobile HBCU Challenge at Footprint Center

Duane Rankin
Arizona Republic
Nov 15, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) looks on against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first half at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Paul's ongoing efforts to shine a light on historically black colleges and universities brings four schools cross country to Phoenix.

The Suns All-Star point guard is hosting the Boost Mobile HBCU Challenge on Nov. 28-29 at Footprint Center. The games will be televised on ESPN networks.

“I’ve watched Chris from the clothing that he wears, the awareness that he brings to the needs of HBCUs, I think it’s phenomenal for someone who didn’t go to one, but has an affiliation with them because of his family,” said Suns coach Monty Williams about Paul, who played college ball at Wake Forest.

“To be able to raise awareness, raise funding and bring attention to the HBCU schools, I think it’s unbelievable, but it’s just Chris. That’s who he is. He’s been instrumental in a number of areas, but this one is pretty cool because I know it’s important to him.”

Norfolk State, Morgan State, Hampton and Grambling State are playing in the two-day classic.

“I’m excited, I’m really excited,” Paul said last week as the Suns will be back from a four-game road trip in time for him to watch the games. “My brother played his freshman year at Hampton University. So to have those schools coming out here to play is really cool. I know my brother is excited, too.”

This comes after this week’s Chris Paul HBCU Tip-Off at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut that featured Morehouse, Virginia Union, West Virginia State and Winston-Salem State.

“He’s a greater person than he is a basketball player, which is crazy to say because of how good he is on that court,” Suns wing Mikal Bridges said. “He does a lot of things.”

Nov 19, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) talks to guard Cameron Payne (15) during action against the Dallas Mavericks in the first half at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic

Paul’s ties to Winston-Salem State run deep.

He not only grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C., but the late great Clarence “Big House” Gaines, who won 828 games in 47 years coaching WSSU, used to watch Paul play in high school and hang out at Paul's grandfather’s service station.

Paul served as an executive producer for the ESPN docuseries ‘Why Not Us’ about Winston-Salem’s men’s basketball team that launched in February of this year.

Now Paul is a student there studying communications.

He has the student ID card to prove it.

“That’s my Winston Salem State card right there,” said Paul as he held it up.

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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