Brandon Paul's little brother Darius is leaving Western Michigan and transferring to Illinois. That alone would be enough to write this one off – if he was good enough to play high major basketball, being Brandon's little brother he would have gotten plenty of scouting in high school, and so he'd already be playing high major basketball. Right?
Neither ESPN nor Rivals even gave Darius Paul a grade out of high school. He was in the 2012 class, and played just north of Chicago. He ended up at Western Michigan, and that's where things got interesting.
The 6-8 freshman started all but two games and averaged 10.4 points and 5.7 boards on his way to becoming the MAC Freshman of the Year. When the coaching staff at Western Michigan changed, Paul decided to look around. Florida came calling. And Marquette. And Miami. Obviously the high-school scouts missed on this kid.
At 6-8 he's versatile enough to handle the ball in transition. He made 51% of his 2s and was average from the free throw line. It's rare to find freshmen who are both high volume and efficient, but Paul was one. He took 27% of the shots when he was on the floor, and managed an offensive rating of 101.5 – which isn't great, but it's very encouraging for a freshman to be able to handle that kind of load.
His biggest asset is his aggressive nature around the rim. He goes after every rebound, and grabbed 12.8% of his own team's misses, which would have been 3rd in the Big Ten between Trevor Mbakwe and Cody Zeller.
Now he'll have a year to sit out, get stronger, and work on his explosiveness. This is a great pickup for Illinois, and clearly illustrates John Groce's strategy – at least in the short term. Groce has had the job for 14 months and already this is the 5th transfer he landed.