Alex Paquin, the McGill men’s team’s fifth-year starting point guard from Candiac, Quebec, began his athletic career in a different sport: Baseball. At age seven, Paquin’s brother—who went on to play baseball in university—introduced him to basketball.
“I was playing [basketball] everywhere [after that], in the park, at home,” Paquin said. “I was just this little kid who was always playing […and] having fun.”
Eventually, Paquin chose to pursue basketball more seriously and set his sights set on playing in university. He made his way to American University, an NCAA Division 1 school in Washington, DC, where he played for three seasons.
“[Playing in the United States] was pretty cool,” Paquin said. “It’s a lot different than in Canada. The culture of sports is on another level.”
After graduating three years later, Paquin returned to Montreal to play for McGill while working towards his diploma in applied finance. He gained two more years of playing time with the move due to U Sports’ eligibility rules which allow for five years of varsity athletic participation.
Paquin has, thus far, made the most of his return to his home country: He helped the McGill men to a program-best fourth-place finish last year while earning RSEQ and U Sports Championship All-Star honours.
“At first, it was hard to adjust, […] but once I [did], it was honestly the year I loved [the] most […and] had the most fun,” Paquin said. “It was just a connection […with] their culture […of] brotherhood, working hard, and having fun doing it.”
Despite growing up as a Kobe Bryant fan, Paquin models his play most closely to Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard. Paquin sees himself as a smart, tough player who is a strong shooter and a hard worker.
“I feel like I’ve eliminated most of my deficiencies [on] offence,” Paquin said. “Now, it is mostly about getting in shape.”
The biggest change Paquin has seen in his game over the years has been in his approach to the game.
“It used to be hard,” Paquin said. “I used to [think] ‘I need to score, I need to put on a lot of pressure,’ but, now […] I’m really prepared. When I come into a game, it doesn’t matter what’s in front of me. I’ll know what to do.”
Looking ahead to his final university season, Paquin has set himself lofty goals. He hopes to earn All-Canadian honours, and he wants his team to keep winning.
“Most people think that because [five graduating players] left, we’re going to have a down year, but I really want to show everyone that it doesn’t matter,” Paquin said. “They instilled [a winning attitude] at McGill, [and] we’re still going to win.”
Paquin hopes to play professionally in Europe upon graduating from McGill. That process requires finding an agent, showing off his skills in a highlight reel, and, most importantly, having a strong season.
“It’s stressful […] because there’s a lot of uncertainty,” Paquin said. “I’ve got to show up [to] every game. I can’t take a break [….] I have to perform.”
Paquin’s game has benefitted from that sort of additional pressure thus far. The point guard has averaged 19 points, three assists, and three rebounds through the eight preseason games in which he played—all improvements from his numbers last year. As the regular season tips off on Thursday, Nov. 8, Paquin will look to maintain his team’s pace and lead McGill to yet another record season.