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Dave Paulsen is reloading at George Mason

Recruiting talent is key to Paulsen’s success.

NCAA Basketball: George Mason at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Two years ago, when Dave Paulsen accepted the George Mason job, he faced two big challenges: develop the young players already on the roster and recruit Atlantic 10-level players into the program.

He’s doing just that.

Sophomores Otis Livingston II and Jaire Grayer were both starters and heavily contributed to the Patriots’ success. Freshman Justin Kier started 29 of 33 games, while two more freshmen, Karmari Newman and Ian Boyd, played larger roles as the season went on.

Going into next season, Livingston II, Grayer, Kier, Newman, and Boyd will be back, along with a recruiting class that has the campus gleaming with excitement.

Paulsen will add Capital Classic invitee and 3-star recruit Goanar Mar. Mar was a finalist for Mr. Basketball in Minnesota and won four 3A state titles. With Jalen Jenkins gone, the 6’7 Mar will look to contribute right away. Paulsen pointed out Mar’s ability to be a high-level two-way player:

“He is an extremely versatile offensive player, and will have the ability to effectively guard at least four positions defensively” Paulsen said.

Defense is how Mar made his mark as a sophomore in high school. He routinely guarded the opposing team’s best offensive player while scoring around 13 points a game, despite not being the No. 1 option on his own team. With offers from the likes of Iowa State and Nebraska on the table, Mar decided George Mason was the place for him. By the time he was a senior, his offensive game had caught up to his defensive reputation. In the state semifinals and finals, he averaged 24 points and 13 rebounds.

Greg Calixte and Javon Greene round out an impressive recruiting class.

Calixte was a finalist for Mr. Basketball in New York and led Mount Vernon (NY) to the New York AA State Championship. Like Mar, Calixte participated in a national high school all-star game, this time the Jordan Brand Classic.

Some scouts think Calixte will need some time to develop but Paulsen thinks Calixte has a high ceiling.

“Greg has a great work ethic and as good a player as he is right now, he’s just starting to scratch his potential,” he said.

This is where Paulsen’s strength of player development comes into play. He’s made tremendous strides with a young team in two short years because he can get players to buy in. That’s not always easy, but on the surface, Calixte seems to be a perfect fit for the program.

Calixte’s AAU coach, Dwayne Murray, gave him the ultimate compliment.

“He has explosively quick footwork with his post moves, and he runs the court very well for his size,” he said. “He stays in the weight room. He's a good passer out of the post. But his best attribute is he's listens. He's so coachable.”

The guard Greene brings a defensive presence that will fit in with Paulsen’s defensive scheme. He described Greene as having the “potential to be an elite defender at the college level.”

Along with his defensive prowess, Greene can explode on the offensive end. Previously he broke a Holiday Hoopsgiving record with a 58-point game. What made the performance even more impressive is that his team was down 21 points in the first half and he led them to victory.

He capped off his senior year by being named Georgia 4A First Team All State.

As Paulsen moves forward with George Mason’s program, one can sense the theme. The players coming into the program are two-way players who have a strong background of winning.

The incoming recruits will be able to contribute to the program’s roster of young, experienced players. In two short years, George Mason has gone from rebuilding to restocking.