A closer look at Brandon Paul

Brandon Paul is used to hearing the phrase, “As you go, the team goes.” It rang true last year when he led Warren High School to the IHSA sectional finals and was named Illinois Mr. Basketball, and so far it’s ringing true this year in his first season as an Illini.

At just 18 years of age, the freshman guard’s play often tends to determine how the rest of the team will fare. Head coach Bruce Weber said the squad’s emotions on the court usually stem from Paul and fellow freshman D.J. Richardson.

However, both Paul and the Illini have run into trouble as of late, and Paul must learn to leave his high school game behind if he wants to win in the Big Ten. In the meantime, let’s take a look at how the top high school player in the state of Illinois got to this point.

What drew you to Illinois?

“I really liked the school. I really like this coaching staff. It’s close to home, and my brother comes here and my family can come watch the games … and it was the players. I liked to watch Dee Brown, Deron Williams and Luther Head play. The coaching staff was great, and Coach Weber has a great winning tradition, so I definitely wanted to come here.”

What about your high school friends?

“A lot of my friends stayed home to go to school, so I knew if I came here I could have a lot of my friends come down to the games, and that’s what happened.”

Was there anybody who tried to sway you at the last minute before you signed with the Illini?

“My mind was pretty much set, so there was nothing really I could do.”

What’s your relationship like with fellow freshman D.J. Richardson?

“We like to hang out. He’s a great guy. He’s always got laughter in him, and he’s always got jokes, so he’s always really funny. On the court, we like to get after it. We just like to push each other.”

What’s happened to your game lately?

“Sometimes I think I’m thinking too much into the game and that I can just be doing the little things. I can be taking charge, playing defense, things like that … I feel that I still have a lot of room to grow, so if I can keep my mind focused, I can get better.”

Is there anything that has surprised you so far in the Big Ten this season?

“Not really. It’s great, a lot of basketball, and every game counts. We’ve got to take every game seriously.”