Following the departures of senior guards D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul this off-season, the Illinois Fighting Illini are preparing for a virtual new-look moving forward in what will be their second full season under head coach John Groce.
Groce has made quite the splash in the transfer pool since arriving at Illinois, landing a pair of newcomers from other schools a year ago. Now, he has four others set to join the program next season, although NCAA rules on transfers force players to sit out a full season unless cleared by a waiver.
Jon Ekey, Aaron Cosby and Darius Paul have all already committed to Illinois by way of transfer since the conclusion of the 2012-13 season. That fourth transfer is Oregon State junior point guard Ahmad Starks, who committed to Groce and the Illini on Tuesday night, according to ESPN Chicago.
Starks, who stands at 5-foot-9, averaged 10.4 points, 2.3 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game last season for the Beavers. Starks made the decision to transfer to be closer to his ailing grandmother and he plans to apply for a hardship waiver at Illinois. If granted, Starks will be able to suit up right away and join Tracy Abrams and incoming freshman Jaylon Tate within the point guard rotation.
“It’s the state school,” Starks told ESPN Chicago. “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.
Outside of the Illini, Starks was also considering a transfer to Bradley.
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