Ahmad Starks will have to wait until the 2014-2015 season to wrap up his collegiate career.
The 5-foot-9 Chicagoan played his first three seasons at Oregon State before decided to transfer to Illinois to be close to his ailing grandmother. On Tuesday night, his hardship waiver was denied by the NCAA.
“Following a lengthy process, we have received final word from the NCAA on Ahmad’s status. We are all disappointed with the decision to deny the waiver and especially feel bad for Ahmad and his family,” Illinois head coach John Groce said in a statement. “Ahmad had a compelling case, returning to his home state to be closer to an ailing grandmother who played an instrumental role in raising him. However, we now have to move forward. Ahmad will focus on preparing our team in practice while also making individual improvement, fueled by the goal of returning to the court in 2014-15.”
The Illinois backcourt is looking to replace the production of leading scorers Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson. The Illini backcourt this season consists of returners Tracy Abrams and Joseph Bertrand while adding transfer Rayvonte Rice and incoming freshmen Kendrick Nunn, Jaylon Tate and Malcolm Hill.
Starks averaged 10.4 points, 2.3 assists, 2.0 boards and 1.0 steals per game this past season for Oregon State. He joins a promising 2014 class that includes four-star point guard Quentin Snider and four-star power forward Leron Black, as well as three-star big man Michael Finke. He also be eligible the same year as Seton Hall transfer Aaron Cosby, who will have two years left to play.
Starks will have one year of eligibility remaining.