Oregon State transfer Ahmad Starks has finally found a landing spot, committing to Illinois on Tuesday night.
Starks left OSU to be closer to his grandmother in Chicago, who is sick. Starks attended Whitney Young HS in the city, one of the best high school programs in the country.
“It’s the state school,” Starks told ESPN.com of his decision to transfer. “It’s always been big for me. I always liked watching it growing up, watching Dee Brown and those guys. I took a visit when Bruce Weber was the coach. I liked the situation there, and it didn’t work out. Being close to home, the alumni situation, all of it is huge. They have a great fan base.
“I’m like a lot of players that plan to be a professional basketball player of some sort when I’m done with college. It’s definitely a good opportunity to play for a team that I can help out and be close to my grandmother. My parents can hopefully bring her down often, every home game and much as possible. It’s a great opportunity to play for coach [John] Groce and his staff and the players there.”
Starks averaged 10.4 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steals as a junior this past season, while also shooting 39% from beyond the arc. The knock on Starks, however, is that he dominates the ball and that he doesn’t necessarily have the greatest shot selection. He’s not a modicum of efficiency; anyone that watched the Beavers play the last couple of seasons will tell you.
But it’s a worthwhile risk for John Groce to take.
For starters, Starks is certainly talented. He can shoot and he can score in bunches, and if Groce can somehow find a channel his aggressiveness, Starks can be a useful piece off the bench in an already loaded back court. Illinois also looks like they may end up being headed for the NIT next season, as they lose Brandon Paul, DJ Richardson and DJ Richardson and already have a roster that will be heavily reliant on transfers.
It makes you wonder: does Groce really need to add Starks to a back court when he has Tracy Abrams, Joseph Bertrand, RayVonte Rice, Kendrick Nunn, Malcolm Hill and Jaylon Tate?
Or is he bringing Starks into the fold for one season to do his best to tap into the well that is Whitney Young?
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.