After averaging 10.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game as a freshman at Western Michigan in 2012-13 forward Darius Paul made the decision to transfer to Illinois, where his older brother Brandon enjoyed a solid four-year career. And after sitting out the 2013-14 season per NCAA transfer rules, the younger Paul was expected to contribute for head coach John Groce in the upcoming 2014-15 campaign.
Unfortunately for Paul issues away from the court have resulted in Groce deciding to suspend the 6-foot-8 forward for the entire 2014-15 season, with the school announcing the decision Tuesday afternoon.
“After a thorough review of Darius’ year, which includes multiple transgressions, I am suspending Darius from all team-related activities for the entire 2014-15 season,” Groce said in a statement. “As head coach, my concerns are always what is best for the University of Illinois, what is best for the men’s basketball program, and what is best for our student-athletes as people. I feel this penalty is necessary to help Darius as a person. We will continue to support him through this process.”
Paul was arrested on charges of underage drinking and resisting a police officer on April 22, and according to the Chicago Tribune his next hearing in relation to the matter is on Friday. However while Groce noted “multiple transgressions” in the announcement that Paul has been suspended, no particular incident was cited as the reason for the disciplinary action.
Losing Paul hurts a front court that won’t be the most experienced group in 2014-15, with rising senior Nnanna Egwu being the lone returnee who saw significant playing time last season. Maverick Morgan played in all 35 games as a freshman but averaged just 7.1 minutes per contest, and fellow sophomore Austin Colbert played in 22 games (5.5 mpg).
In the front court Illinois adds Leron Black and Michael Finke this summer, with the former ranking among the nation’s best prospects. In total the Fighting Illini will have three newcomers, with Seton Hall transfer Aaron Cosby joining a backcourt led by rising seniors Rayvonte Rice and Tracy Abrams.