Brandon Paul 'trying to stay positive'
His goal is to join the list of former Illini in the NBA. For now, Brandon Paul is healing up from shoulder surgery and getting ready for his next pro shot. Where and when are to be determined.
Staff writer Bob Asmussen caught up with Paul two days after surgery on his right shoulder:
How are you feeling?
It’s fine now. It’s a lot less sore than it was. It has only been a couple of days, so I’m still in a little bit of pain. I’m taking painkillers. It’s stable.
How long will it take for you to recover?
It will be three months or so.
How did it happen?
I hurt it scrimmaging when I was playing with the Bulls (in the summer league) last Tuesday. I heard a little weird snapping sound. I ended up tearing some cartilage in there.
You had been hurt before.
I just had surgery on my left shoulder back in March. My left shoulder, I got better in three and a half months, which is a lot quicker than what they thought. And it’s feeling great now.
What is the plan now?
I’ve got to do rehab and get back to 100 percent. I’m still talking to my agent as far as the next step goes.
How disappointing has it been to miss time now?
It’s very disappointing. Everything happens for a reason. I’m staying positive. Things could be a lot worse. I’m just glad it’s something that is going to heal over time rather than something that’s going to nag me. It could have easily been a knee injury.
What can you do now to stay in shape?
Nothing until I’m out of the sling. I’ll have the sling for about two weeks.
Tell me about your experience in Russia.
It was OK at first. I got to travel a lot. That’s one thing I love to do is travel. I had a lot of good teammates. As time went by, I realized it wasn’t the best situation for me. I decided to move forward and come back to the States. I got a chance to play in the D-League. I was only there for a short time. I really thought, my week there before I got hurt, I learned a lot in that little short span of time.
Is going overseas an option?
I’m definitely going to wait and see. Everything is going to fall in place.
Will we see you some back in Champaign?
I’ve been back. Maybe when I get more healthy. Right now, I’m focused on what I have to do to get myself back playing.
What do you think of the Bulls?
I was practicing with them for a few days. Derrick (Rose) was working out with us. He looked great. I got a chance to meet a couple of the draft picks. This is a great group of guys. They are playing great in the summer league. I don’t think they are going to lose. Having an opportunity to be a part of that was very humbling, even though it didn’t end the way I wanted it to.
Will Doug McDermott be a good player?
No doubt. He’s a great kid. He’s something I definitely think the Bulls can use. He’s not a one-sided player. He can play both ends of the floor. That’s something that surprised me.
Did you have any pointers for him being the hometown guy?
I told him to go out and see some of the plays. I’ve seen “The Lion King” play.
When you are hurt, what do you do to fill the time?
Besides going to therapy a few times a day, I’m blessed to have a lot of friends around me. I get to hang out with them in my off time. Being able to make a little bit of money last year gives me the financial freedom to visit some other friends.
Does the injury get you thinking about life beyond basketball?
I think so. I’ve got people in my life who tell me this is a good time to reflect and think about what I might want to do once the ball does stop dropping for me.
What did you think about the ESPYs?
I was impressed. Drake did a great job hosting. I thought it was really funny.
How much do you talk to the Illinois coaches?
Every couple of weeks. I talked to Coach Groce the other day. He shot me a text about my shoulder.
Do you still talk to the old Illinois coaches?
I haven’t talked to them in a while, but I ran into Jerrance (Howard) in Vegas. That was cool. They were great coaches. Coach (Bruce) Weber played a big part in my maturity the first three years of college.
Other than your family, who has been most encouraging as you pursue a pro career?
My mentor Dickey Simpkins, who won three rings with the Bulls. I was introduced to him at a young age and he was able to guide me and talk to me about basketball and life. He’s very influential.
There are only two former Illini in the NBA right now. Why is the number so low?
I can’t really answer that. I was looking forward to another chance this year. Unfortunately I got sidelined.
How will it make you feel to be No. 3?
Playing in the NBA is my lifelong dream, something I’m definitely looking forward to.
How will Illinois do this season?
I think the team has a solid chance to be good next year. The coaching staff does a solid job with all of them. I think it will be more of a team effort rather than an individual effort that is going to boost them this year.
You seem to have a great attitude about your injury.
I’m trying to stay positive. That’s what is going to keep me moving forward.