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  • Churubusco head coach Chris Paul, right, sits alongside assistant coach Bruce Patterson, his father-in-law.

  • Churubusco's Jackson Paul plays in the Monday Night Basketball League least week at Snider. Paul averaged 17.9 points a game for the Eagles last season. Photos by Rachel Von Stroup | The Journal Gazette

Monday, June 24, 2019 1:00 am

Family affair at Churubusco

Eagles rising junior receiving coaching from dad, grandfather

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

At a glance

Snider Monday Night Basketball League

When: 3rd of 3 weeks Monday. Games start at 6, 7 and 8 p.m.

Where: Snider High School

Admission: Open to the public, free 

Chris Paul and his father-in-law Bruce Patterson have coached alongside each other a quarter of a century, but even by their standards they expect this upcoming basketball season to be a special one.

Paul, the head boys coach at Churubusco, will be coaching one of his sons for a fourth straight season as rising junior Jackson Paul follows his older brother Jalen, who was a senior during Chris Paul's first season at Busco in 2016-2017. And after putting together a record of 41-33 in three seasons and capturing a sectional title in their tenure so far, Paul and Patterson believe the Eagles have all the pieces for a big postseason run.

“This June, we've really worked on being very aggressive defensively and playing really fast,” Chris Paul said last week at the second night of the three-week Monday Night League at Snider. “We'll try to rebound and we'll try to play really fast. Last year we tried it, and we didn't quite have the personnel. This year we feel the personnel is in place to really up the tempo.”

In addition to Jackson Paul and players like junior Luke McClure, the Eagles are getting an influx of new players.

Hunter Perlich and Tim Knepple, who transferred from Carroll, attended school at Churubusco last season but had to play JV due to transfer rules. Noah Wolfe from Canterbury and Landen Jordan from Concordia Lutheran have also joined the team for the upcoming season. 

“Landen is as talented a big man as exists around here, and that's saying a lot, because Caleb Furst is here,” Patterson said, referring to the rising Blackhawk Christian junior who won a Class A state title with the Braves last season. “Landen has a lot of play that Caleb has, but he's not as defined. If he ever decides he wants to work at it, he can be anything he wants to be.”

While Jordan can provide Churubusco with size, Patterson described Perlich and Wolfe as “warriors.”

“The basketball expression is they're dogs. They'll get in your face, and they'll bite you if you're not careful,” Patterson said. “There's a lot of talent, a lot of kids who can add to us.”

Jackson Paul, who averaged 17.9 points and 5.5 assists per game as a sophomore, will also have another year of experience to draw from. 

“He's spent a lot of time in the weight room,” his father said. “Since his freshman year, he's put on about 35 pounds of muscle. He's just more mature now. When you log as many minutes as he has over two years, he knows what to expect. He leads by example. And a lot of the guys know that they can look to him now, whereas a couple of years ago he was still the young guy.”

Patterson said his grandson seems to be improving just about every day, and while all three acknowledged that family members tend to be hardest on each other, they also recognized that they have been given an opportunity that's not available to many families.

“I've died and went to heaven,” said Patterson, who brought on Chris Paul as an assistant when he was the head women's coach at Saint Francis in the 1990s. “When you talk about Jackson or Jalen, his older brother, I've probably been on the sideline with them as much as anybody, any human being alive.”

Paul followed his father-in-law when Patterson was named the women's coach at IPFW, and then took over the program from him. When Paul took the job at Churubusco, he “needed some cheap labor,” as Patterson put it. 

They say their working relationship is pretty smooth.

“It's very difficult to yell at my assistant when he's my father-in-law,” Paul joked. “But for the most part, it's pretty cool and something that not a lot of people get a chance to do, to spend so much time as a family together.”

And with so many years of working together, the two have developed similar coaching philosophies.

“We've always recognized that whoever has the final responsibility is going to make that decision,” Patterson said. “When I was the head coach and he was the assistant, if we disagreed, eventually I was going to have to make a decision. Now I recognize that I have to step aside. And he's right most of the time.”