Skip to content

College Hoops Player of the Week: Brandon Paul, Illinois

Dec 10, 2012, 9:00 AM EST

Brandon Paul, Sam McLaurin, Elias Harris, Kevin Pangos

Player of the Week: Brandon Paul, Illinois

Paul has made quite a transformation during his time in Champaign. He entered college as an athlete and slowly morphed himself into a chucker, a guy capable of doing things like this that usually needed 12-15 shots to get his 14.7 points and shot under 40% from the floor. This season, however, Paul looks like he’s playing with a completely different mindset. He’s more efficient, more potent and, against Gonzaga, showed that he has the ability to take and make big shots in the most important moments of a game. In short, Paul has turned himself from a guy with NBA potential to a player that will, barring a collapse, hear his name called in June.

The performance against Gonzaga wasn’t the best of Paul’s career, but it was one of the most impressive of the young season. He finished with 35 points on 10-16 shooting, hitting 5-9 from beyond the arc and adding four boards, three assists, three steals and two blocks. He sparked a second half run that allowed Illinois to take control of the game late and he hit the shots down the stretch that ensured the Zags would not be able to make a comeback. We’ve been fooled by hot starts from the Illini before, but in the same way that this appears to be a different Brandon Paul than last season, I think that this may be a different Illinois team from the last few years of Bruce Weber’s tenure.

The All-They-Were-Good-Too Team

  • G: Kevin Dillard, Dayton: The Flyers big win of the week came on Wednesday, when they went into Tuscaloosa and knocked off Alabama on the strength of 25 points and six assists from Dillard. They followed that up with a win over Miami-Ohio at home where Dillard tallied 15 points. No one expected by the Flyers to be in the mix at the top of the Atlantic 10 this season, but with some of the early-season struggles we’ve seen out of St. Louis, St. Joe’s, Butler and UMass, there’s no reason the Flyers can’t make a run at a top three finish in the league.
  • G: Grant Gibbs, Creighton: You want to know how good Gibbs was this week? Doug McDermott scored 59 points in wins over Akron and at in-state rival Nebraska, and I didn’t even consider him for this list. In those two games, Gibbs had 12 points, 11 boards and 18 assists while committing just a single turnover. Those numbers don’t include the nine assists without a turnover that Gibbs had in a 29 point drubbing of St. Joe’s last Saturday. In his last 102 minutes of basketball, Gibbs has 27 assists and just one turnover, which is probably why his assist to turnover ratio right now is 7.4:1.
  • G: Geron Johnson, Memphis: The Tigers bounced back from a rough performance in the Bahamas with a pair of impressive wins, including a 26 point victory over a good Ohio team. Johnson averaged 17.5 points for the week, while also adding nine assists, seven steals and 10 boards in the two games, shooting 15-24 from the floor. With Adonis Thomas, Joe Jackson and Tarik Black still trying to find a rhythm, it looks like Johnson may end up being this group’s most talented and dangerous player.
  • F: Anthony Bennett, UNLV: Bennett came up huge in the absence of Mike Moser in two games this week. He went for 18 points and six boards as the Rebels came-from-behind to knock off Portland in Portland and followed that up with 25 points and 13 boards in a win at Cal on Sunday. With Moser expected to miss quite some time after injuring his elbow on Sunday, Bennett’s ability to produce will only become more important.
  • C: Jordan Bachynski, Arizona State: For the second time this season, a player has recorded a triple-double involving blocked shots. Jeff Withey did it against San Jose State, and Bachynski did it against Cal State-Northridge, going for 13 points, 12 boards and 12 blocks in the win.
  • Bench: Adrian Coleman (Bethune-Cookman), Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse), Deonte Burton (Nevada), Aaron White (Iowa), Kyle Fuller (Vanderbilt)

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Arizona, Michigan State headline 2015 Wooden Legacy field

    Nov 20, 2014, 4:58 PM EST

    Tom Izzo Tom Izzo

    Arizona, Michigan State and Providence all reached last season’s NCAA tournament.

  2. Burning Questions: Who gets the last shot?

    Nov 20, 2014, 3:32 PM EST

    marcus paige Getty Images

    Who is the most clutch player in the country?

  3. Throwback Thursday: Jeff Brassow beats Arizona in Maui in 1993 (VIDEO)

    Nov 20, 2014, 2:37 PM EST

    jeff_brassow

    The 2014 Maui Invitational kicks off on Monday.

  4. Poll: 54 percent of people think Kentucky beats the 76ers, 54 percent of people are dumb

    Nov 20, 2014, 1:57 PM EST

    @Sportsnation @Sportsnation

    I cannot respect your intelligence if you think Kentucky beats Philly. I just can’t do it.

  5. Burning Questions: Will we get another surprise Final Four team this year?

    Nov 20, 2014, 1:29 PM EST

    Aaron White, Nathan Hawkins AP

    The last two years, Wichita State, UConn and Kentucky have all made the Final Four as teams seeded outside the top six.

  6. Jerry Tarkanian is back in the hospital

    Nov 20, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Sad: One of the sport’s most notorious coaches is struggling with his health.

  7. Assigned Reading: The Tao of Shaka

    Nov 20, 2014, 11:05 AM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    There’s more to Shaka Smart than meets the eye.

  8. Report: Colleagues don’t expect Brandon Miller to return to coaching

    Nov 20, 2014, 10:32 AM EST

    Brandon Miller Brandon Miller

    Will we ever see Butler’s head coach on the sideline again?

  9. Late Night Snacks: Creighton, Gonzaga make statement in wins

    Nov 20, 2014, 1:05 AM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    It was a quiet night on the college hoops front, but one ranked team went down.

  10. Defense carries the day for an Arizona team that’s still a work in progress offensively

    Nov 20, 2014, 12:53 AM EST

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson AP

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was the spark plug for a team that has a lot of progress to make offensively.

  11. Key Missouri freshman will not be traveling with team to Maui Invitational

    Nov 19, 2014, 11:37 PM EST

    10171551

    Jakeenan Gant has yet to play in a game for Missouri.

  12. Creighton comes from 18 down to knock off No. 18 Oklahoma

    Nov 19, 2014, 10:37 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    This is a huge win for Creighton and for the Big East as a whole.

  13. Troy Williams, Stanford Robinson apologize for positive drug test

    Nov 19, 2014, 8:57 PM EST

    Stanford Robinson (AP Photo) Stanford Robinson (AP Photo)

    Apologies won’t get Tom Crean off the hot seat, but at least they acknowledged their mistakes.

  14. Three-star center becomes Georgia’s third 2015 signee

    Nov 19, 2014, 5:48 PM EST

    Mark Fox Mark Fox

    Derek Ogbeide’s been praised for his ability as a defender and rebounder, areas Georgia will need to address with two of their front court mainstays being seniors.

  15. Pregame Shootaround: No. 18 Oklahoma tested on road, No. 3 Wisconsin on upset alert?

    Nov 19, 2014, 4:33 PM EST

    Green Bay athletics Green Bay athletics

    It’s not the same as last night, but there are some good basketball games scheduled for Wednesday.