Yes, I know the season has already started. My intention was to get all these out into the world before Nov. 8, but life (and trips to the U.K.) get in the way. So let me insult my readers by introducing someone who won’t even be playing this year: Ahmad Starks.
I still believe it’s helpful to have some idea who is warming the bench, since that’s where Starks will be as he was denied a hardship waiver from the NCAA and therefore can’t play this season.
Starks comes to the Illini by way of Oregon State, and has just one year of eligibility left. Due to an ailing grandmother in Chicago, he petitioned the NCAA for a hardship waiver that would’ve allowed him to play this year. In early October, the NCAA said NO WAY, causing a bit of an issue, considering it would’ve been more beneficial for him to play this year so we can have room for folks (ahem Cliff Alexander?) next year. But, John Groce will make it work I’m sure.
Starks, a Chicago native, has always been an Illini fan, and was choosing between Illinois and Bradley.
With Brandon Paul gone, the only experienced point guard on the team right now is Tracy Abrams, which is why it would have been nice to have Starks available this year. Freshmen Jaylon Tate has high school experience as a PG, but it’s not the same thing. Luckily, so far it seems as if Tate may be enough, but we’ll see what happens when games get more difficult.
While a Beaver, Starks started 73 games in three seasons. The 5-foot-9 guard (you read that right) averaged 10.4 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steal as a junior last season. Now let’s be honest, if he’s going to be filling in as PG then we’re going to want to see a few more assists on that list and possibly more steals as well. As for turnovers, looks like he averaged 1.4, which isn’t too shabby, especially when you consider Abrams averaged 2.6 last year.
Let’s see some highlights: