Might coach John Groce’s Illinois backcourt be getting a little deeper?
Former Whitney Young star, Ahmad Starks, announced he was leaving Oregon State with a year of eligibility remaining. The 5-9 junior plans on visiting the Illinois campus later this week.
“We have a plan in place and will talk to several schools and see what their interest is and see what kind of fit we can find,” Donzell Starks, Ahmad’s father said. “This is all new to us.”
While other local schools could be looked at, Starks’ father did confirm a trip to Illinois is planned for this week, with Bradley also in the mix.
Bradley assistant coach Ron Coleman was an assistant coach at Whitney Young while Starks starred for the Dolphins.
With an ailing grandmother, Starks wants to be closer to home. As a result, Starks will apply for a medical hardship waiver due to his grandmother’s health, which would allow him to be immediately eligible.
Starks has been a major contributor at Oregon State since he arrived on campus three years ago. Last season he averaged 10.4 points and 2.3 assists a game, knocking down 64 three-pointers while shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc.
As a sophomore, Starks averaged 12 points and 2.7 assists while connecting on 79 three-pointers after playing 22 minutes a game as a freshman, averaging 7.8 points a game.
A veteran presence with high-major experience like Starks would add to the Illinois backcourt, where sophomore Tracy Abrams and junior Joseph Bertrand are the lone returning perimeter players. Transfer Rayvonte Rice, who sat out this past season, and incoming freshmen Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate will join Abrams next season.
Plus, Starks has always been a low-maintenance, high character kid with strong academics and brings zero baggage to a program.
During Starks’ senior year at Whitney Young, he helped lead the Dolphins to a state runner-up finish in Class 4A. He averaged 13.4 points and 6 assists a game while shooting 45 percent from the three-point line (45 of 99). As a junior, Starks played a key role for the 2009 Dolphins state championship team.
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