I didn’t go to St. Anthony’s. I didn’t go to Lincoln, or Mater Dei, or even Oak Hill Academy. I went to River Dell Regional High School, and our list of notable athletic alumni is sparse, to say the least — particularly when compared to schools like the aforementioned. Most RD alums proudly identify Bill Parcells as one of their own, but that’s about all they usually know.
However, up on the RDHS Wall of Fame, immortalized as his 18-year-old self, is another Golden Hawk who made his presence felt in the professional sports world. After only playing basketball in his senior year of high school, Billy “The Whopper” Paultz went off to junior college in Oklahoma, then returned east to star at St. John’s before being selected in both the 1970 NBA and ABA drafts.
The Whopper was never a superstar, but he was strong rebounder with a deft offensive touch. Traded to the Nets following the draft, he made an immediate impact. Paultz averaged a double-double (14.7/11.3) in the 1970-71 regular season, ramping up his averages to a 20-15 in the Nets’ first-round playoff loss.
Paultz continued to find success as a Net, averaging over 15 points and 11 rebounds per game in his five years with the team, making two all-star appearances. He was also a key part of the 1974 Nets championship run, leading the team in blocks during the playoffs, while finishing third in scoring and rebounding.
Sadly, the Nets traded the Whopper and his services to San Antonio after the 1975 season, and he remained in the ABA/NBA until 1986, appearing in the 1981 NBA Finals with the Rockets.
He may not have been the best athlete — far from it — but Billy Paultz utilized his brains and brawn to become an effective NBA and ABA center. As a Net, he was a fan favorite, an All-Star, and a champion.
From only one year of high school basketball spawned a professional basketball career that lasted 15 years.
Billy “The Whopper” Paultz: River Dell Golden Hawk, ABA Champion, Nets great.