Former Illinois Guard Brandon Paul Opted For An Overseas Opportunity Rather Than NBA Training Camp

Former Illinois standout Brandon Paul is now playing overseas in Russia. - Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

After an impressive career at Illinois, guard Brandon Paul went undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft. Paul was a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves summer league squad, but signed an overseas deal landing him in Russia, rather than an NBA training camp this fall.

Former Illinois guard Brandon Paul went undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft, but parlayed his NBA summer league performance into an overseas opportunity.

Shortly after the draft, Paul was selected for a spot on the Minnesota Timberwolves summer league team, an opportunity in which the 6-4, talented four-year Fighting Illini guard relished. RidiculousUpside.com recently interviewed Paul, who now is getting ready for his first season as a professional in Russia, with BC Nizhny Novgorod.

Paul spoke highly about his time with Minnesota in Las Vegas, "It was a great experience. I was really excited and grateful that they gave me a chance to play with them. I had some pretty solid workouts with them during the draft process. I basically just tried to play to my strengths whenever I was in the game. I knew I wouldn't be playing as much as I'd like to, but every time I stepped on the floor, I made sure I played hard not only offensively, but defensively as well. I think I showed a lot of teams that I'm capable of guarding multiple positions."

Paul averaged 7.6 points and 1.8 rebounds in 14.4 minutes through 6 games at NBA Summer League, and knew entering the mid-summer event, that he needed to show off his versatility from the guard position. On top of showing NBA personnel his various skills, Paul also used his summer league experience to help with his decision to play overseas.

"I considered a few different things. I asked as many questions as I could as far as the D-League, training camp, and playing overseas goes. I had some great guys on my team that were in all of those situations, so I sort of listened to their opinions, as well as my own feelings. For my first year I didn't really want to bet on playing in the D-League, so I made the decision to go overseas." Paul said.

The decision to head overseas for his first season as a professional, came after careful consideration. "After summer league, I got invited to a few training camps, which included Minnesota, Brooklyn, Portland and Miami. I was excited to hear about this as well as the interest I was getting from a few teams overseas (Russia, France, and Germany). I talked it through with my agent, family, as well as a couple others in my close circle. Most importantly, I had to make the decision for myself, so I weighed all of my options." Paul added.

Paul's summer situation can be looked at as an example for other players in his position following the NBA Draft. Paul's ultimate goal is to play in the NBA, but figured the overseas route would benefit him more.

Paul explained his decision to play in Russia, versus a possible attempt in an NBA training camp. "The thing with training camp is that it's pretty hard to make a roster, because there are limited spots. Sometimes you can do well, but the team might not want to carry a certain number of guys. I didn't have any doubt that I couldn't make a roster, but had I went to camp and ended up starting in the D-League, I think I would have been doing myself a disservice. Nothing against the D-League, but I felt like I could make some really good first year guaranteed money, as well as compete in a top league in Russia, so that's the route I took."

Paul is already enjoying the perks of playing professionally overseas, the newly minted BC Nizhny Novgorod player, tweeted out a Vine post after seeing himself in an ad at a large Russian mall.

Paul will surely cash in on the opportunity to showcase his skills in Russia, and will join last season's NBA D-League MVP Andrew Goudelock in Russia's top league as well.

Paul has also remained focused on his future, and has thought about his plans following his first season in Russia. "Now, when I get back to the states and go through the summer league process again, I can make the decision on staying or going overseas a little easier on myself. I will have some financial support to where I feel comfortable staying and going to camp, if that's what I choose." Paul said.

Paul will likely remain on the radars of NBA teams, and after a potentially solid season in Russia, the young guard will only increase his chances of playing in the NBA.

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