It took a while, with some anxious moments along the way, but Paul Lewis’s college basketball plans are now firmly established.
The 6-foot-2 Bishop O’Connell High School senior point guard will play for the Vanderbilt Commodores of the Southeastern Conference. Lewis, the Sun Gazette’s 2021-22 boys Player of the Year, recently was offered a scholarship after being watched during a workout by the Vanderbilt coaches, then visiting the Division I university in Nashville.
One of those watching him work out was Vanderbilt head coach and former NBA player Jerry Stackhouse.
“Everything worked out, and now there’s a lot less stress involved,” Lewis said. “That’s one of the top conferences in the country and I’m so excited to have a chance to play there. I loved Vanderbilt.”
Lewis’s college status was in limbo for a number of months after he decommitted to play at the University of Maryland, when the team was going through multiple coaching changes in recent months.
For the private-school O’Connell team this past season, Lewis averaged 10.6 points and 3.3 assists per game when he was chosen first-team Division I all-state and second team all-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.
One of his best games came when Lewis scored a season-high 27 points and had six rebounds and four assists in a victory over Paul VI Catholic on O’Connell’s senior night. Later in the season, he made five three-pointers in a state-tournament contest against Benedictine, which was his second-to-last high-school contest. He did not miss a shot (field goal or free throw attempts) in the first half against Benedictine.
Lewis also was a first-team all-Sun Gazette selection in the 2019-20 season. O’Connell’s 2020-21 campaign was not held because of the pandemic.
“Paul is a great scorer with an incredible shooting range,” O’Connell coach Joe Wootten said. “His IQ for the game is very high, and Paul has become a great point guard.”
Lewis’s older brother, Matt, also played at O’Connell, then became a Division I college standout for James Madison University. Matt Lewis currentlyis a professional player in the Minnesota Timberwolves organization, playing for the team’s minor-league G League squad, as he works to recover from a knee-cap injury.
“I think Matt was more excited about me going to Vanderbilt than I was,” Paul Lewis said.
Matt Lewis averaged 11.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 32 games during the 2021-22 season playing for the Minnesota’s Iowa Wolves G League team in Iowa. He had one 30-point game.
Matt Lewis was a first-team Sun Gazette selection his senior season at O’Connell.