Having lost two productive perimeter players at the end of the season in T.J. Price and Trency Jackson, Western Kentucky head coach Ray Harper added some depth to his backcourt Thursday afternoon. Aaron Cosby, who’s had stops at Seton Hall and Illinois, will join the program for his final season of eligibility according to Zach Greenwell of the Bowling Green Daily News.
Provided he go through with plans to complete his studies at Illinois Cosby will be eligible immediately for the Hilltoppers, who finished the 2014-15 season with a 20-12 record. In a conversation with Greenwell, Cosby cited his familiarity with Harper and the WKU program as reasons for his decision.
“Ultimately, the opportunity to go back home and play for guys that have known me since my freshman year of high school was big,” Cosby said. “They know my game. They saw me play AAU, prep school, high school. That was important.”
Expected to be part of the Illinois backcourt rotation after playing two seasons at Seton Hall, Cosby played in 19 games (starting 13) before being suspended indefinitely in late January for a violation of team rules. In February, head coach John Groce announced that Cosby would be leaving the program at the end of the season.
Cosby averaged 7.8 points and 3.6 rebounds per game for the Fighting Illini but he didn’t shoot particularly well in doing so, making 29.3 percent of his shots from the field and 31.1 percent from beyond the arc. Cosby shot much better during his time at Seton Hall, shooting 37.7 percent from three as a freshman and 40 percent as a sophomore before deciding to transfer.
Provided he get back to the numbers he posted in his first college stop, Cosby can be a solid addition for the Hilltoppers alongside Chris Harrison-Docks, who averaged 11.1 points per game in 2014-15. Harrison-Docks, who began his career at Butler, is WKU’s leading returning scorer with forward George Fant joining Price and Jackson as players who have run out of eligibility.
In addition to Cosby, WKU will add junior college transfer Fredrick Edmond and freshmen Chris McNeal and Marlon Hunter Jr. to the perimeter this summer.
Illinois announces departure of redshirt junior guard from program
With Rayvonte Rice making his return from a two-game suspension for a violation of team rules in Illinois’ 64-52 win over Michigan February 12, there was still the matter of when redshirt junior guard Aaron Cosby would be reinstated. Cosby, who began his college career at Seton Hall, was suspended at the same time as Rice and was averaging 7.8 points and 3.6 rebounds per game for the Fighting Illini.
Friday, it was announced that Cosby will not return to the program. In the statement this was termed as a “mutual decision” reached by Cosby and head coach John Groce , with Cosby expected to finish the semester before transferring to another school. Cosby, who’s on course to graduate this spring, would be immediately eligible as a graduate transfer.
“After having further discussions with Aaron and evaluating the situation from both sides, he and I have mutually agreed that it is best to part ways,” Groce said in the release. “I enjoyed coaching Aaron and appreciate the contributions he made during his time here. I wish him success and will be rooting for him to have a great finish to his career.”
Illinois has solidified its perimeter rotation in recent weeks, with the suspensions meaning that sophomores Malcolm Hill, Jaylon Tate and Kendrick Nunn received even more opportunities to make plays. Add in seniors Rice and Ahmad Starks, and the Fighting Illini are well-positioned from a depth standpoint.
And in regards to next season, Illinois adds four-star guards Jalen Coleman-Lands and Aaron Jordan, and four-star forward D.J. Williams. With those players joining Hill, Nunn and Tate, minutes likely would have been tough to come by for Cosby.
“I have a great relationship with my coaches and teammates here at Illinois, but feel it’s in my best interest to seek out a new opportunity,” Cosby said in the release. “I’m thankful for everyone in the program for their support and look forward to the next chapter in my basketball career.”
Illinois coach John Groce offers no update on Rayvonte Rice and Aaron Cosby
Since being injured both Rice and Cosby have returned to practice.
“At times we’ll pull them out here or there for different things,” Groce said, according to the Tribune. “Both guys are on track. From a medical perspective they look great. More than anything (it’s) trying to keep their cardio up.”
Illinois head coach John Groce has seen two of his guards sidelined with injuries this month, which has prompted the motto, “Next Man Up” for the Fighting Illini.
The next man in line is senior Ryan Schmidt, who until Friday was one of the student managers for the program. Groce announced the addition of the 6-foot guard, who will suit up on Saturday against Minnesota.
Schmidt has been with the program throughout his four years in Champaign after starring at Central Catholic High in Bloomington, Indiana.
The Fighting Illini has been without leading scorer Rayvonte Rice since Jan. 6, breaking a bone in his left hand. Last Saturday, Aaron Cosby suffered a retinal tear in his left eye in Illinois’ loss to Indiana. The original timetable for Rice’s return was 4-6 weeks while Cosby should be able to join the team in a week or two.
Illinois and Minnesota tip at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday. The Illini get a week-break following the Big Ten matchup.
With leading scorer Rayvonte Rice sidelined, Illinois will be short another guard for the time being. Wednesday evening the program announced that guard Aaron Cosby will be unavailable for the next 1-2 weeks after undergoing a laser procedure on his left eye to repair a retinal tear.
The injury was suffered during the first half of the Fighting Illini’s home loss to Indiana on Sunday, a game in which Cosby played 18 minutes and missed all five of his shots from the field.
Cosby, who is in his first season of eligibility at Illinois after beginning his college career at Seton Hall, is averaging 7.8 points and 3.6 rebounds per game but he’s shooting less than 30 percent from the field on the season. With Cosby sidelined it’s likely that another transfer, guard Ahmad Starks, moves into the starting lineup for the time being.
Starks, who’s averaging 7.7 points and 3.0 assists per game, accounted for 19 points and six assists in 26 minutes off the bench in Sunday’s loss to Indiana.
1. Kyle Wiltjer (via Kentucky) and Byron Wesley (via USC), Gonzaga: Mark Few’s team still has questions to answer, mainly on the defensive end, but there’s no doubting that he’s added several transfers that make the Zags a top-10 caliber team. Wiltjer, the 2013 SEC Sixth Man of the Year, has had over a year to reshape his body. By the looks of last week’s viral video, his 3-point shot is still intact. Wesley, a graduate transfer who averaged 17.8 points, 6.4 rebounds per game in 2013-2014, gives the Bulldogs another weapon on the perimeter.
2. Bryce Dejean-Jones, Iowa State (via UNLV): The Mayor’s success with transfers in Ames is well-documented. Next in line could be fifth-year senior Bryce Dejean-Jones. Iowa State graduated a lot of its scoring pop, and Dejean-Jones can help in that department, although he doesn’t need to be the top scorer like he was last season at UNLV. Hoiberg will look for the 6-foot-6 newcomer to be a wing who creates his shot, not one who will force it, as Dejean-Jones shot selection has been a problem in the past.
3. Rodney Purvis, UConn (via N.C. State): The reigning national champions add a former McDonald’s All-American to its back court alongside Ryan Boatright. At 6-foot-4, Purvis will give the Huskies size on the perimeter; someone who is not only capable of getting to the rim, but also a reliable 3-point shooting, knocking down 38.5 percent of his threes at N.C. State.
4. Anthony Lee, Ohio State (via Temple): The graduate transfer was highly-sought after, but picked the Buckeyes, adding size, scoring and rebounding to their frontline. At Temple, he recorded 11 double-doubles en route to 13.6 points and and American Athletic Conference leading 8.6 boards per game.
5. Kedren Johnson, Memphis (via Vanderbilt): Memphis went from a back court of four seniors in 2013-2014 to a set of guards with zero Division I experience. That was until Johnson, the Vandy transfer, got a waiver to play immediately. In 2012-2013, the 6-foot-4 Johnson averaged 13.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. His experience on-the-ball should help the younger guards get adjust to the level of play.
6. Angel Rodriguez, Miami (via Kansas State): The Hurricanes new point guard took a year off to recover from a wrist injury and now is the key piece to a revamped perimeter for Miami, which includes fellow transfer Sheldon McClellan, four-star freshman JaQuan Newton and returners Deandre Burnett and Davon Reed. The former K-State floor general was second-team all-Big 12 in 2012-2013, averaging 11.4 points and 5.2 assists per game.
7. Trevor Lacey, N.C. State (via Alabama): T.J. Warren took his ACC Player of the Year honors and his 24.9 points per game to the NBA, leaving plenty of shots available for the the newcomer. The 6-foot-3 Lacey averaged 11.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game as a sophomore.
8. Katin Reinhardt, USC (via UNLV): After taking the second-most shots on UNLV as a freshman in 2012-2013, Reinhardt headed back to the state of California in hopes of being more than just a shooter. Despite his desires to have the ball in his hands, his biggest asset to Andy Enfield is his ability to hit from the outside. The Trojans were a Pac-12 worst 29 percent from beyond the arc last season.
9. Justin Martin, SMU (via Xavier): The 6-foot-6 wing is eligible immediately after graduating from Xavier. He posted 11.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, knocking down 50 3-pointers. He has also played in two NCAA tournaments, a place the Mustangs are looking to get back to for the first time since 1993.
10. Matt Carlino, Marquette (viaBYU): Steve Wojciechowski adds the former BYU guard to a back court that includes senior Derrick Wilson, potential breakout star Deonte Burton and redshirt freshman Duane Wilson. Carlino will see time on and off the ball, and will provide Marquette with a knockdown shooter.
13 MORE IMPACT TRANSFERS
Angelo Chol, San Diego State (via Arizona): Steve Fisher has had success with transfers in the past, and this season it could be Chol, the former Arizona Wildcat, who could never crack the loaded frontline.
*Cody Doolin, UNLV (via San Francisco): Dave Rice added a steady point guard (averaged 5.6 assists per game in 2012-2013) to a team that lost its starting five. Has been granted a fifth year of eligibility, but still waiting on a waiver to be allowed to play this season, although he is expected to receive it.
Justin Edwards, Kansas State (via Maine): Top scorer in the American East at 16.7 points per game in 2012-2013 could end up being a double-digit scorer for the Wildcats.
Byrn Forbes, Michigan State (via Cleveland State): Forbes will help combat the lose of Keith Appling and Gary Harris, averaging 15.6 points per game (42 percent from three) last season in the Horizon League.
Anthony Hickey, Oklahoma State (via LSU): Hickey hopes the change of scenery can help return to sophomore averages of 11.2 points, 3.4 assists and 2.9 steals per game.
Jabarie Hinds, UMass (via West Virginia): With Chaz Williams graduating, the West Virginia transfer will be inserted into a back court with returning starter Derrick Gordon and key reserve Trey Davis in what could end up being a three-guard set for the Minutemen.
Keith Hornsby, LSU (via UNC Asheville): Matched up with JuCo transfer Josh Gray in the back court, Hornsby gives the Tigers size at 6-foot-4 and a 3-point threat.
Stanton Kidd (via North Carolina Central) and Antawn Scott (via Grambling) Colorado State : Outside of San Diego State, the rest of the Mountain West is wide-open. The addition of Kidd and Scott can help the Rams separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
Jermaine Lawrence, Manhattan (via Cincinnati): The former five-star recruit is a big addition to a Manhattan team looking to return to the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season.
Antoine Mason, Auburn (via Niagara): Only national player of the year Doug McDermott scored more points than Mason (25.6 ppg) last season, as the former Niagara standout joins fellow transfers K.C. Ross-Miller and Cinmeon Bowers this season for the Tigers.
Ahmad Starks, Illinois (via Oregon State): Senior guard Tracy Abrams tearing his ACL made the addition of Starks and Seton Hall shooter Aaron Cosby all the more important. Starks will be asked to run the offense this season in his first and only year with the Illini.
*TaShawn Thomas, Oklahoma (via Houston): The 6-foot-8 forward is still waiting on a waiver to play this season. Would make the Sooners a real threat in the Big 12.