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Brandon Paul, 6-foot-3 shooting guard, Illinois: A talented, yet erratic, scorer early in his college career, the native of nearby Gurnee, Ill., thrived under first-year Illini head coach John Groce in his senior year, leading the program back to the NCAA Tournament while displaying the potential to be an instant-offense combo guard off the bench on the next level. But while his physical tools and ability to put points on the board aren't up for debate, whether or he can flourish as a converted floor general will determine his professional fate.
Strengths: Paul isn't a true point guard by any means, but possesses good size for the position and showcased some playmaking ability as a primary ballhandler, as well as solid ability to get to the basket and finish. He's a streaky shooter, but can get hot from the perimeter and with continued work on his mid-range game, Paul could become a more dangerous threat off the dribble and if he fully harnesses his explosiveness on the defensive end of the floor, there's no reason he can't become competent on that side of the ball.
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Weaknesses: While he made strides as a senior, the third team All-Big Ten selection still had issues with consistency. A volume scorer, Paul was never a high-percentage shooter from the field and seemed to settle long, high degree-of-difficulty jumpers, suggesting that even with the ball in his hands more, he struggled with shot selection. While he has a developed frame, his athleticism won't be an overwhelming advantage in comparison to NBA guards. Defensively, he's capable of guarding players at both backcourt positions, but didn't show always have focus. Additionally, turnovers are a major area of concern, as he was often careless with the ball as a lead guard.
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Career highlights: A 43-point junior-year outburst in an upset win over Ohio State, even in a disappointing overall season for the team, won't soon be forgotten. But the 2009 Mr. Illinois Basketball recipient also had some impressive moments in his final campaign in Champaign, including a 35-point outing in a win over Gonzaga, being a major part of a last-second shocker over then-No. 1 Indiana and a game-winning shot to top Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament.
Draft projection: Regarded for his high character, Paul could be drafted in the second round, depending on how he fares in workouts for NBA teams. Whether he's selected or not, Paul will have to prove that he can run a pro offense on at least a part-time basis, as well as display the ability to score at will, both by getting to the rim and drawing fouls, and keeping defenders honest from the perimeter. It also wouldn't hurt his case to also be an enthusiastic defensive player.