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Darius Paul?

Where to start? Facts or rumors?

Here’s a fact. Darius Paul will be in town today. Brandon’s “little” brother was the MAC Conference Freshman of the Year at Western Michigan. But he’s leaving Kalamazoo.

Will he be here when basketball season starts in October?

Coach Lynda Paul (his mom) says Darius “has received offers from Florida, Miami (FL), Missouri, USC, Marquette, Nevada, Iowa State, Nebraska and a few others.”  Illinois hadn’t offered a scholarship yet, and the Illini might not have one to give.

Lynda Paul specified two schools that had not, as of Thursday, offered Darius a scholarship: North Carolina State and Northwestern. Northwestern was rumored to be in the mix, and it’s close to home (Gurnee). She mentions NC State because their Director of Player Development is Larry Farmer, the former UCLA (and Loyola-Chicago) head coach. Farmer and Missouri assistant Rick Carter recruited Darius to Western Michigan:

Darius made his decision to go to Western primarily because Coach Farmer could teach him how to be a great big and Coach Carter would help him to understand the game of BB. Darius wants to be a coach and he respected these individuals and trusted that he could learn from them. They both left WMU right after Darius enrolled in Summer school at WMU. Darius still just took his lunch bucket and went to work.

The USC in Lynda Paul’s list is Southern Cal and not South Carolina. You’ll recall they recently hired the supermodel’s husband following his Sweet 16 run at “Dunk City.”

Former FGCU assistant coach Marty Richter is the point man on recruiting Darius to Los Angeles: “USC has been the most relentless as the new Coach Richter was the coach out of Florida Gulf Coast who recruited him the hardest out of HS.”

So back to the question: Will Darius be in Champaign when basketball season starts?

Rumor has it that Illinois offered its last scholarship to Oregon State transfer Ahmad Starks, yesterday. If that’s true, and if Starks accepted the scholarship offer, then Darius would be the fourteenth of thirteen.

Illinois has not yet publicized anything about Starks, but that announcement would come today if Starks did sign a tender of financial aid agreement. If Starks did sign that agreement, the Illini coaching staff could have (within NCAA rules) publicized the fact at any moment after the pen left the paper.

UPDATE: At 4:10 p.m. Friday, Illinois Sports Information confirmed that Ryan Squire, Illini Director of Compliance, will self-report to the NCAA regarding Mike Basgier’s Tweet. 

Don’t worry. It’s not a big deal. But it does mean that Ahmad Starks signed no tender offer yesterday. Thus, there’s still potentially a scholarship available for Darius Paul.

That means Strength & Conditioning coach Mike Basgier did not commit a secondary violation if he did, as rumored, Tweet a welcome to Starks.

NCAA rules prohibit coaches to discuss potential recruits, but not signed recruits.

Coaches are also allowed to acknowledge that they are recruiting particular individuals. The Illini big man coach is Dustin Ford. Darius Paul’s interest in Illinois would rely heavily on his sense of Ford’s ability to develop bigs, and whether they mesh personally.

Lynda Paul: “His first decision was based on the coaching staff. His decision this time will be based on the coaching staff. No change in approach. Darius wants to be a great coach after his playing days are over and he needs to be coached by the best. Period.”

On the phone Thursday night, Cliff Paul Sr. (Darius’s dad) expressed the hope that Illinois would offer today. He also said he’s still feeling lousy following an extremely painful sinus surgery. (Get well soon Cliff!)

Dustin Ford did not respond to a Thursday evening text asking whether Illinois is recruiting Darius Paul. That’s probably the smart thing, considering all the rumors.

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