Ahmad Starks, a transferring combo guard from Oregon State has recently had his waiver clause denied to play at Illinois this upcoming season. That means Starks will have to wait a season to play for Illinois, and will play his senior season in 2014-2015. As an Illinois fan, this is really unfortunate news both in the short term and long run.
To begin with, this is unfortunate for this upcoming season because we will have a very young and inexperienced team that could use his veteran leadership. We have 5 incoming freshmen that will be called upon pretty heavily this upcoming season, and it doesn't help that Starks will not be available to take off some of the pressure from some of those freshmen guards, especially Jaylon Tate.
The main reason as to why this hurts Illinois is that they now have 14 scholarships for 2014-2015 (which is already 1 over their limit), and they still think that they have an outside shot of landing Chicago superstar Cliff Alexander. With LeRon Black, Quentin Snider, and Michael Finke all already committed to play at the University of Illinois next season, they will have very little room to operate. I don't believe that either Tracy Abrams or Nnanna Egwu will be good enough to forgo their senior seasons to declare for the NBA Draft, therefore we would need players to transfer to even have a shot at Cliff, or any other prospect that we are targeting.
I am amazed at the atmosphere that the Illinois coaching staff has surrounded themselves with going into John Groce's second season as head coach of the Illinois Fighting Illini. He and his staff have done an amazing job recruiting top prospects and creating recruiting classes that can compete with some of the best talent in the Big Ten, and in the nation. I really look forward to the many successful years that await Illinois, and I am hoping that we will remain competitive this year, even though we are a bit inexperienced.
Let me know what you guys think about our current scholarship situation, as well as what you guys think of John Groce as a recruiter and what you think of the direction that our program is headed in. I would sure be interested to know!
I don't even know why Groce pursued Starks anyways. It's not like he was any good. It's like Groce sought out depth for the sake of having depth. If Starks really wants to finish up his eligibility and actually PLAY, IDK why Illinois is still an option for him given what they have in the backcourt and Snider coming in next yr. He should go somewhere like UIC where he'd go from the bottom of the depth chart to the top, while playing closer to home.
In this college basketball climate, a transfer is highly probable. Especially on a team with a ton of depth which the Illini will have. I'm guessing one of the small guards transfers out. Either Starks (who would be immediately eligible to play) or Tate. I'd hate to see Groce screw up the Simeon pipeline so I hope Starks comes to his senses.