CHAMPAIGN - Illini guards Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson were both voted as third-team All-Big Ten selections, the league announced this week.
Averaging a team-best 16.3 points per game (fourth in the Big Ten), Paul was selected by both the coaches and media for the honor.
While his scoring average is the highest by an Illini in 10 years (since Brian Cook in 2003), it's everything else he provides that excites coach John Groce most.
"Some people will look at scoring and percentages and all those things, but I'm looking at it more holistically," Groce said. "I'm looking at it, body language, attitude, leadership, defense, rebounding, sharing the ball -- he's done a lot of those really, really well."
It's the second-straight year Paul has been recognized by league coaches. He was a third-team selection last season as a junior. He's now scored in double figures in five straight games and lacks one steal from joining Mark Smith (1978-81) as only the second player in school history to record 1,500 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 150 steals in a career.
"Obviously we need him to make plays for us, and I'm confident that he can," Groce said. "We've got to continue to encourage him to do that. I think he's played some good basketball."
Richardson, meanwhile, has started every game this season for the Illini, currently on a streak of reaching double figures for a career-high 13 consecutive games.
The senior from Peoria averaged 14.2 points per game in Big Ten play and a team-high 33.7 minutes played.
Having started 128 career games, Richardson expressed gratitude for being included as a third-team selection by the coaches and an honorable mention choice by the media.
"That's great. I'm blessed to be third-team, also for Brandon as well," he said. "It's a big accomplishment for my career. We still have more to prove, for myself and the whole team. There's something bigger than that. We've got a Big Ten Championship that we're fighting to win."