Darius Paul transfers to Illinois

Darius Paul is heading back home, where he can expect much more challenging shots like this one. - Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It had been widely speculated, but early Sunday morning Darius Paul made it official, he's transferring to Illinois.

Darius Paul took to Twitter late Saturday night to announce where he is transferring to.

Paul originally announced he was leaving Western Michigan in April following a stellar freshman season. The 6-foot-8-inch forward averaged 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game for the Broncos in the 2012-2013 season capturing the Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year award. When Paul made the decision to transfer, it shocked many, including his coach at WMU Steve Hawkins.

"I had no idea this was coming. Darius came to me (Monday) afternoon and we sat down and had a long visit, then he told me what was on my mind," Hawkins told MLive.com in April.

But considering the fact that he wanted to play against a higher level of talent, the move made sense for a player who would have been one of the MAC's best in the 2013-2014 season. Paul received a lot of attention following his freshman season and according to his mother, Lynda Paul, felt it was time to move on.


Pts Reb Ast
2012 - Darius Paul 10.9 5.8 1.7

"What if ESPN calls you? You get your resume ready and based on your production, based on your preparation, you feel like you’re ready… I’m actually pretty proud of him for making that decision. That’s a tough decision. You don’t just leave a place you love without knowing where you’re going or what you’re going to do," Lynda told MLive.com.

Paul had offers from more than seven programs, including Florida, Miami (Fla.), Nevada and Missouri but chose Illinois, as many had suspected he would. Paul is a Gurnee, Ill., native and was named a second-team All-State pick in 2012. His older brother Brandon just finished his senior season with the Illini, and Paul's family has a good relationship with first-year Illini head coach (and former Ohio University head coach) John Groce who led the team to a 23-13 record before falling to the Hurricanes in the third round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

"Seeing Brandon’s success really got him thinking, ‘Why can’t it happen to me, too?''' Lynda told MLive.com

Paul will get a shot at taking on some of the most elite talent in college basketball. The Big Ten is widely considered the best conference in college basketball and Groce has already tasted success with the Illini in his first season in Campaign, Ill.. But per NCAA regulations Paul will have to sit out the 2013-2014 season.

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