Brandon Paul was named the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week on Tuesday by the United States Basketball Writers Association.
Paul was phenomenal against the Bulldogs, putting in 35 points as the Fighting Illini pushed their record to 10-0 and sent out another reminder that perhaps they are going to exceed expectations this season.
Eight times this season, Paul has either led or tied for the team lead in scoring, clicking for 20 or more points five times.
The senior guard has buried 28 three-pointers on a team that has thrived knocking down shots from the outside–the Illini lead the country in three-pointers made per game–and he the top scorer on the team at 19.5 points per game.
But he is more than a scorer. He has dished out 38 assists and has come up big defensively as well, tallying 14 steals.
His leadership was evident in the game against Gonzaga as he delivered time and again when the Illini needed him most, including giving the team a halftime pep talk after it had rallied to tie the score at 41-41 at the break.
It’s no surprise that Paul has taken his game to another level because he is one of the few veterans the Illini had coming back this year.
His success has helped Illinois become one of the early-season surprises of the college basketball season and the Illini will go as far as Paul will take them.
Brian Lester is a featured Big Ten columnist and college basketball writer for Rant Sports. He is a member of the United States Basketball Writers Association as well.
Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993 or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.