Report: Hornets' Paul to be named Rookie of Year

OKLAHOMA CITY -- New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul, who led all first-year players in points, assists, steals and other categories, will be named the NBA's Rookie of the Year.

A person within the league told The Associated Press of Paul's award Monday on condition of anonymity because the official announcement was scheduled for Wednesday. Paul is scheduled to be in New Orleans that day for a team-related function.

Paul was drafted as the No. 4 overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft, and he quickly emerged as one of the Hornets' best players. Among rookies, he ranked first in points (16.1), assists (7.8), steals (2.2), double-doubles (21), minutes played (36.4) and triple doubles (2).

"I couldn't have asked for a better rookie season," Paul said after the Hornets' season ended in mid-April.

With Paul running the show, the Hornets improved from 18 wins last season to 38 this season and stayed in the playoff chase until the final week of the season. He joined Brevin Knight (1997-98) as the only NBA rookies ever to lead the league in steals, with 175.

The selection was hardly a surprise. Paul, who left Wake Forest after his sophomore season, won all six Rookie of the Month honors in the Western Conference and was the only unanimous selection to the NBA's All-Rookie Team last week. Others selected to that team by league head coaches were Toronto's Charlie Villanueva, Milwaukee's Andrew Bogut, Utah's Deron Williams and New York's Channing Frye.

In an interview with The Associated Press before word of Paul's selection came out, team owner George Shinn spoke about his rookie star without being prompted.

"I learned a long time ago that the difference in a good player and a great player is character, and Chris Paul is character right from the soles of his feet to the top of his head," Shinn said.

Paul will try out for the U.S. national team this summer and plans to hold basketball camps back home in North Carolina and in Oklahoma City. He also announced plans Monday for a "Winston-Salem Weekend" in North Carolina this September to benefit his charitable foundation, the CP3 Foundation.

"Winning the award wouldn't have been possible without my teammates," Paul told The Times-Picayune of New Orleans in a story posted on its Web site Monday. "Guys like David West and Speedy Claxton made things easier for me. I just tried to play the same way every game."