- Scott Powers, Reporter
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Darius Paul, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward, was the MAC Freshman of the Year averaging 10.4 points and 5.7 rebounds last season. He decided to transfer because of a coaching staff change and the desire to play at a higher level, according to his mother.
Darius also had offers from Florida, Iowa State, Marquette, Miami (Fla.), Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada and others since receiving his release from Western Michigan. He will have to sit out next season per NCAA rules and will have three years of eligibility remaining.
Darius attended Illinois' postseason banquet with Brandon, an Illinois senior, on Saturday. Brandon, a 6-4 guard, started 89 games in four seasons for the Illini. He was voted an All-Big Ten third-team selection as a junior and a senior.
Paul's mother, Lynda, wrote in an email last week that she would be OK if Darius decided on Illinois.
"If Illinois wants Darius, we would be very happy to give Darius our blessings to go there," Lynda wrote. "We love the University of Illinois and the current coaching staff."
Illinois has received five transfers since coach John Groce took over the program prior to last season. Rayvonte Rice (Drake) and Sam McLaurin (Coastal Carolina) joined the team before the season.
The Illini's 2013 recruiting class, ranked No. 18 by ESPN, also includes five high school seniors -- shooting guard Kendrick Nunn, small forward Malcolm Hill, power forward Austin Colbert, center Maverick Morgan and point guard Jaylon Tate.