In late April, MAC Freshman of the Year and arguably Western Michigan’s top returning player, Darius Paul, informed the coaching staff he was transferring out of the program. This came as a shock to head coach Steve Hawkins as Paul, the younger brother of former Illinois star Brandon Paul, averaged 10.4 points and 5.7 rebounds and looked to be the focal point of the program for the remainder of his career.
Paul’s mother, Lynda, told MLive.com on April 24th that her son has a “desire to play at a higher level,” and that there were four schools in the state of Illinois that had reached out to him. She continued to say:
“We’re pretty astute basketball people here – we’re not going to let him go somewhere where it would be a situation where it’s not better than the Western Michigan basketball situation. That would be crazy; that would be absolutely crazy.”
In a tweet Darius sent out late Saturday night, he made it known that the University of Illinois was one of these four schools and is where he will be spending his next four years. Per NCAA rules, he will out during the 2013-14 season, but become eligible for the next three seasons beginning in 2014-15.
Western Michigan went 22-13 last season and lost to George Mason in the semifinals of the CBI. The 22 wins was the most since 2003-04 when the Broncos won 25 games en route to a #11 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Despite the team’s success, Paul ostensibly had a desire to take his game to a higher level and in a better conference. Prior to his commitment to Western Michigan in October of 2011, he boasted offers from several high-profile programs such as Florida, Marquette, Miami (FL), and Missouri among others. Over the weekend, he attended Brandon’s postseason banquet at Illinois while on an official visit to the school.
Paul is the fifth player to transfer to Illinois during John Groce’s short time in Champaign. Since the end of this season, he is the third transfer Illinois has received as Illinois State junior forward Jon Ekey and Seton Hall sophomore guard Aaron Crosby also elected to play for the Illini.
You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11
No. 15 Cincinnati pounced on Memphis from the start, taking a 51-32 lead into halftime.
Then, Gary Clark decided to add insult to injury to start the second half. Seriously, how did he catch that?
Mick Cronin’s team is much better offensively than in previous seasons. I’m sure fans in the Fifth Third Arena can get used to seeing more plays like this.
Michigan State freshman guard Cassius Winston had just one field goal in the first half. And it was a half-court buzzer-beater as the Spartans capped a sizable run to take a 49-31 lead over Nebraska going into the break.
The Spartans ended the half on a 21-5 run.
Winston provided a serious boost off the bench during that stanza. Moments earlier, he helped the Breslin Center erupt when he lobbed a pass off the backboard to teammate Miles Bridges.
Michigan State opened the day projected as one of the final at-large bids in the NCAA Tournament. The margin for error is thing and it appears the Spartans are playing with a sense of urgency.
Wednesday’s slate of games had several wild results.
Former Ohio State walk-on turned blogger turned author Mark Titus, who is currently writing for The Ringer, joined Rob Dauster on the latest episode of the CBT Podcast to go over last night’s games. The two also discussed who is the best team in the nation at the moment, as well Frank Mason III’s rap single from several years ago #BIFM
You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom
North Carolina’s Roy Williams called fellow Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino to apologize for a fan’s behavior during Wednesday night’s game in Chapel Hill.
While leaving the floor at halftime, Pitino had to be restrained by members of the Louisville coaching staff and he and a UNC fan exchanged words as he made his way to the locker rom. There’s video of Pitino pointing and shouting at a fan, who reportedly said, “Pitino, you suck!”
“I don’t like that,” Williams said, according to the Charlotte Observer. “I mean we’re in North Carolina. We don’t have to be like everybody else. We can raise Cain. You can boo, but you don’t have to say the stuff that we as coaches have to put up with.”
“I hope that never happens at North Carolina ever again.”
No. 8 North Carolina defeated No. 7 Louisville, 74-63.
STILL TO PLAY
Georgia at Alabama (RPI: 68, KenPom: 61, next four teams), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Michigan State (RPI: 43, KenPom: 55, No. 10 seed), 7:00 p.m.
Towson at UNC Wilmington (RPI: 41, KenPom: 57, No. 12 seed), 7:00 p.m.