Freshman forward Darius Paul, the younger brother of Illinois senior guard Brandon Paul, is leaving Western Michigan after one season and is looking to transfer to a high-major program, Paul's mother said on Wednesday.
Darius, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward, was the MAC Freshman of the Year and averaged 10.4 points and 5.7 rebounds last season. He had four double-doubles, including ones against Michigan and North Carolina State.
Lynda Paul said Darius, who attended Warren High School in Gurnee, Ill., is transferring partly because Larry Farmer left Western Michigan's staff before last season to take a position at North Carolina State. Farmer recruited Darius.
"We love the MAC; that's where I came from," said Lynda, who played basketball at Ball State. "We were really attracted to Western because of Larry Farmer. Larry is our homeboy here in Gurnee. Larry did some camps for my AAU program. We had a relationship with Larry. When Larry left Western, that was hard. Darius still put his head down and went to work.
"When Darius looked back and going forward, he just thought there has to be a better opportunity out there for him to compete at a higher level. In my opinion, and moms are known to be biased, I think Darius is the best player in the MAC. It's not that he cannot grow in the MAC, but he needs a different challenge. The way we see it is when preparation meets opportunity that's when you have success. Darius has a little mulligan in his book bag."
Lynda said she had already been contacted by a number of schools interested in Darius. She said four Illinois programs reached out to her on Wednesday, but she would not identify them.
"We are looking at all the options for Darius," Lynda said. "Darius just made his decision Monday morning, and I was actually out of town. I'm trying to get it all calibrated. We know Darius can produce at the high D-I level. If you look at his game, he performs his best against the best competition. He's not unlike his brother; he likes the biggest stage."
Brandon Paul, a 6-foot-4 guard, started 89 games in four seasons for the Illini. He was voted an All-Big Ten third-team selection as a junior and senior. He recently signed agent James Tanner of Williams & Connolly LLP to represent him as he prepares for the NBA draft.