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Campuses buzzing with Lake County talent
By Patricia Babcock McGraw | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 2/14/2013 10:13 PM

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“3, 2, 1 … and the crowd goes wild!”

It’s been a good week for buzzer-beaters involving former Lake County basketball stars.

Former Mundelein star Ben Brust and former Warren standouts Brandon Paul and Nathan Boothe all made last-second plays that sent college basketball fans into crazy frenzies.

Brust, a junior guard at Wisconsin, had the entire country buzzing when he hit the SportsCenter shot of his life last Saturday against Michigan. With the Badgers trailing by 3 points, his runner from halfcourt hit nothing but net as the buzzer sounded to force overtime.

“It was awesome, something I’ll remember forever, and I’m sure a lot of people will,” Brust said of his halfcourt bomb.

But that was just the beginning of the fireworks for Brust.

His 3-pointer from downtown in overtime was the difference-maker in Wisconsin’s 65-62 win over the No. 3 Wolverines.

“I loved watching that game, loved every minute of it,” said proud Mundelein coach Dick Knar, who coached Brust. “I wrote on Facebook that he was shooting to make that shot from halfcourt (not out of desperation).

“Ben has hit shots like that before. I remember when we were playing this team called Buckeye when we went (to Arizona) for the holidays, Ben hit a shot from three-quarters court, like from the free throw line all the way down to the other end. He’s an amazing shooter like that and I’m so proud of him. He’s having a great year.”

Brust, who finished with 14 points in the Michigan game, was named the Big Ten player of the week on Monday for the first time in his career. He also had 18 points in a double overtime win over Iowa earlier last week.

A transfer from Iowa, Brust has become a valuable piece of the puzzle at Wisconsin. He is averaging 11.2 points per game, including a team-best 10.5 points per game during Big Ten play.

Brust is also leading the Badgers in assists (63) and is tied for the team lead in steals with 24. He ranks seventh in the Big Ten in 3-pointers made with 52.

Meanwhile, Paul, a senior guard at Illinois, was the trigger man on one of the best inbounds plays in recent memory.

He patiently waited under the basket in the final moments of the Illini’s clash with No. 1 Indiana last Thursday as teammate Tyler Griffey freed himself and found a wide open lane to the basket. Paul’s pass was right on target and all Griffey had to do was catch and shoot. It was thing, too, considering that there was only 0.9 seconds remaining and the score was tied.

Griffey’s shot went down for a 74-72 win, the Illini’s biggest of the year.

“That was a really, really nice pass by Brandon,” said former Warren coach Chuck Ramsey, who coached Paul and saw him become Illinois Mr. Basketball as a senior in 2009.

Paul, who had 21 points in the Indiana game, leads the Illini in scoring this year with 16.7 points per game. He also ranks second on the team in assists (74) and 3-pointers (56).

Finally, Boothe, a 6-foot-9 freshman center at Toledo, saved the day last Wednesday when he hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer against Miami that gave his team a 65-64 victory.

The Rockets were down by 2 points at the time and found Boothe off an inbounds pass.

“It was the first 3-pointer of his college career,” Ramsey said of Boothe. “That was a big shot.”

Boothe, who finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds against Miami, has started all 21 games for the Rockets and is averaging 7.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. He also leads the team with 31 blocks on the season.