Illinois recruit Brandon Paul put on a show for Illinois fans in the championship game. He hit 10 of 18 shots from the field including 2 three point shots. In addition he was 9 for 9 on free throws, grabbed 7 rebounds and handed out 3 assists. He scored 24, 16, and 17 in previous victories over Niles West, Lockport and Chicago Curie respectively.
Warren coach Chuck Ramsey spoke to the media after the opening round victory over Niles West and had high praise for his star.
"He's just an unbelieveable athlete. Like most basketball players, he can really get hot in spurts. But he can really be something at times. Once he got it going in the third quarter today, he really impacted the game."
Paul confirmed his team's second half was better than its first.
"We had a long bus ride. We came out a little slow. In the third quarter, we came out with more intensity than the beginning of the game."
Brandon and his teammates didn't know what to expect after having a three week layoff.
"I was a little concerned, but throughout our practices we've been getting better and getting our wind. So we got what we wanted tonight."
Paul didn't have any points until he soared for a resounding dunk with three minutes to play in the first half. Team strategy to utilize postman James Poliquin prevented him from getting many looks.
"We wanted to pound it inside because we had a height advantage. And whenever it came out, we just wanted to hit shots. When they concentrated on Poliquin and double teamed him on the inside, he kicked it out for us to make shots."
The highly athletic 6'-2" guard didn't get hot from outside until late in the game. But his game isn't limited to long range sniping.
"My shot wasn't falling, so I tried to get inside more. Once I got going, I started shooting a little better. And when we started pounding it inside, I got some layups from that."
A number of Illini fans were on hand to support their future player. Brandon was aware of them since they've been following him since he first committed to Illinois more than a year ago. But there was no extra pressure to perform.
"Last year, I had a lot of people watching me, and this year I knew it would be even more since I signed. I was a little disappointed in my first half, but I came out in the second half and gave a show."
Paul was asked what impact the recent commitment of Chicago Mt. Carmel sophomore point guard Tracy Abrams had on him and his future at Illinois.
"It helps our recruiting throughout all the classes. He's a great player. I played against him at the UI one time. It just makes us more excited to play."
Another thing that thrills Brandon Paul is watching his future team win games this season.
"I'm definitely excited watching them right now. They're winning a lot, so that's good too."