Brandon Paul was named Most Outstanding Player at the Illini Basketball Banquet.
May 4, 2013
Urbana, Ill. - Illinois wrapped up the 2012-13 college basketball season Saturday night as a sellout crowd of 600 people attended the 91st annual Illinois Men's Basketball Banquet, sponsored by the Champaign-Urbana Kiwanis Club. The Fighting Illini posted a 23-13 record and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament under the direction of first-year head coach John Groce. Receiving special recognition at the banquet was the 2013 Senior Class: Kevin Berardini, Tyler Griffey, Sam McLaurin, Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson.
A number of awards were handed out on the evening. McLaurin, Richardson and Nnanna Egwu received the Team Identity Award, given to the players who grade out at 70 percent or better over the course of the season on defense and rebounding.
Paul was named Most Outstanding Player. Paul led the UI in scoring at 16.6 points per game, the highest average by an Illini in the last 10 seasons. He recorded a season-high 35 points in Illinois' win at then-No. 10 Gonzaga to earn National Player of the Week honors, and also was named MVP of the Maui Invitational after leading the Illini to the title. A third-team All-Big Ten selection and USBWA All-District V pick as a senior, Paul concluded his career ranked ninth on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,654 points. He also became just the second player in Illini history to reach career milestones of 1,600 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 150 steals.
Egwu received the Illini Rebounding Award, presented by the Rebounders booster club, for leading the team with an average of 4.9 boards. Richardson earned the Ralf Woods Free Throw Trophy, presented by the UI Alumni Association, for ranking first on the team in free throw shooting during conference play at 85.7 percent. And Tyler Griffey claimed the Orange Krush 3-Point Shooting Award for leading the squad with 34.7 percent shooting from behind the arc.
Three players shared the award for Most Improved Player: Egwu, Tracy Abrams and Rayvonte Rice. Egwu tripled his production during his sophomore season, averaging 6.5 points and 4.9 rebounds while also leading the team in blocked shots (1.4 bpg). Abrams was the Illini's third-leading scorer with an average of 10.6 points and led the team in assists (3.4 apg). Rice, meanwhile, showed rapid improvement in practice while sitting out the season as a transfer.
Joseph Bertrand was the clear choice for the 6th-Man Award. Bertrand ranked fourth on the team in scoring (7.3 ppg) and third in rebounding (4.1 rpg) while shooting better than 50 percent from the field.
Rounding out the hardware, McLaurin received the Matt Heldman "Matto" Award, Richardson earned the Kenny Battle Leadership Award and Berardini took home the Lou Henson Courage Award.
2012-13 Fighting Illini Basketball Awards
Illini Rebounding Award: Nnanna Egwu
Ralf Woods Free Throw Trophy: D.J. Richardson
Orange Krush 3-Point Shooting Award: Tyler Griffey
6th-Man Award: Joseph Bertrand
Most Improved Player: Tracy Abrams, Nnanna Egwu, Rayvonte Rice
Lou Henson Courage Award: Kevin Berardini
Kenny Battle Leadership Award: D.J. Richardson
Most Outstanding Player: Brandon Paul
Matt Heldman "Matto" Award: Sam McLaurin
Team Identity Award: Nnanna Egwu, Sam McLaurin, D.J. Richardson