clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

#AskTCR Mailbag: Why Wasn't Brandon Paul Drafted?



Who's ready to see some questions answered? YOU ARE, THAT'S WHO. Well, good news for you because I'm about to answer some questions for you in the latest edition of the #AskTCR Mailbag.

If you'd like to see your question answered in the next edition, here's how you do it.

There are two ways to ask The Champaign Room your questions. You can tweet them at us on Twitter using the hashtag #AskTCR -- it just makes it easier to keep track -- or you can email them to us at And if you've got a personal question and you're worried about your privacy, just tell us. Well change your name to Tom Crean when we publish it on the site. And remember, you can ask us ANYTHING. It doesn't have to be about Illinois or even sports.

Let's get to the questions.

Well I'm not sure who you consider the "nobodies" to be, but I think I can answer this question for you anyway. The real answer is that I don't know. You'd have to ask the teams drafting that question.

What I can tell you is that the NBA has an obsession with foreign-born players these days. Everybody is looking for the next Dirk Nowitzki, and with a lot of these foreign players there's an air of mystery. Think of it like a game show in which you have won a prize, but you're given the option of keeping that prize and calling it a day OR you can give up your prize for what's in the MYSTERY BOX.

Oh the MYSTERY BOX is so intriguing and romantic. There could be anything in there. It could be Darko Milicic or it could be the Brazillian LeBron James. YOU JUST DON'T KNOW AND YOU'LL NEVER KNOW UNLESS YOU TAKE THE MYSTERY BOX!

Yes, NBA teams scout the foreign players, but the scouting only tells you so much when they're playing in other leagues in Europe. So instead of looking at these players for what they are the NBA teams only see what they could be. And I don't think that's the case with a lot of American college players once you get outside of the lottery. NBA teams tend to see guys like Brandon Paul or Seth Curry for exactly who they are and think that that's what they're going to be.

These are guys that aren't going to be superstars in the NBA -- at least they aren't expected to be -- but they're the second rounders, and if you look at the statistics of how many second round picks actually catch on in the NBA and stick around, it's already somewhat of a lottery ticket. So instead of spending a buck on a regular lotto ticket (American college players) teams are going to buy a Powerball ticket (foreign players).

Now, I'm not saying that I think this is the right approach. Personally, if I were an NBA general manager I'd be looking for a known quantity in the second round. A role player that I know I can fit into my team. Because lotto tickets are fun, but let's be real, the guys in the NBA who become superstars generally don't do it out of nowhere.

And another factor in this is that with the NBA salary cap -- which I believe you need a Master's degree to truly understand, and I know I don't -- a lot of teams like to draft foreign players to stash away. By rule they have to make the pick, but by picking somebody who they don't plan on having in the NBA for a few seasons they save space under the cap.

Well, lucky for me I have experience with this. What with the White Sox winning in 2005 and the Blackhawks just winning earlier this week, I'm ready.

Honestly, in 2005 if the Illini had beaten North Carolina I'd have probably done what most people that age would do. I'd have gotten really drunk and partied with friends while using the national title as an excuse. Which means it really wouldn't have meant that much to me.

If they did it now? Now my celebration would be much more subdued, but I think it would mean more to me personally. Because Illinois basketball is something I cared about long before I ever set foot in Champaign.

If the football team won a national title I'd probably respond the same way, though I don't think it'd mean as much to me as a basketball title. Unlike basketball, Illinois football wasn't my favorite college football team growing up. I paid attention to the team, but I didn't really care until I came to Champaign.

A bad cop? Yeah, probably.

But you're a phenomenal person.

Well, as far as recruiting rankings are concerned, they're not all that impressive. That said, I like them just fine. I see guys like Mike Dudek and think they're underrated just because they're not big enough, because, and I'm going to sound like Jon Gruden or somebody here, but Mike Dudek is just a damn football player.

And that's pretty much what I see in this class so far. There's nobody here that's going to be considered a Heisman contender at any point in the near future, but it's a group of guys who are going to contribute on the field, and if you keep finding those guys, wins will follow.

There's still a long way to go until National Signing Day, but no matter where this class ends up being ranked, I think it'll prove itself on the field to be much better than its ranking.

This is a really good question, and also a really hard question to answer when you take out Butkus and Grange. Because Illinois has had a lot of good football players in its history -- J.C. Caroline, Jim Grabowski, Al Brosky just to name a few -- but they aren't really marquee names that would garner a lot of attention today. So I think we'd have to go with somebody a bit more current to get people to show up.

Somebody like a Kurt Kittner, a Simeon Rice, a Tony Eason, a Jeff George, a Brandon Lloyd or even a Juice Williams or Rashard Mendenhall. Basketball is much easier, because if you produce a bobblehead of Dee Brown or Deron Williams then there'll likely be a riot outside Assem...State Farm Center.

Groce, simply because the basketball team has had more recent success and there are so many more five-star basketball players in Illinois than there are football. Though with that said, the fact is the last two five-star recruits in any sport to commit to Illinois were football players. Martez Wilson and Arrelious Benn were five-stars in Illinois' 2007 football class.

The last five-star basketball player to commit to Illinois was Dee Brown in 2002. Deron Williams was a four-star in that same class.

I don't get to drink during Illinois games because I'm working, but if I were to recommend something I'd recommend whatever the hell you can get your hands on.


Thanks for the questions! If you submitted a question that didn't get answered, don't worry, it's possible that I'm just saving it for the next mailbag. It's also possible the question sucked and you need to ask better questions next time. I guess you'll just have to wait to find out.

Follow The Champaign Room on Twitter at @Champaign_Room and Like us on Facebook. You can follow Tom Fornelli on Twitter at @TomFornelli.