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Illinois' Brandon Paul garners early Player of the Year buzz

The Illini guard has been one of the top players in college basketball so far this season.

USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Fighting Illini guard Brandon Paul has helped lead Illinois to an undefeated record so far this season, and after his 32-point outing against the Gonzaga Bulldogs, he's begun to be mentioned in the race for college basketball's Player of the Year. Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish of CBS currently rank Paul No. 7 in their list of candidates, praising his play as the Illini threaten to break into the top five.

Paul scored 35 in Illinois' win over Gonzaga, and so far this season he is averaging 19.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists while shooting 48 percent from the field and 41 percent from three point range. Goodman and Parrish rank Paul behind players such as Mason Plumlee of Duke, Tyler Zeller of Indiana and Jeff Withey of Kansas.

Paul will have another chance to make an impact on the national stage when Illinois plays its annual game against the Missouri Tigers in St. Louis on Dec. 22, which leads into a stacked conference schedule.