Chicago Colleges: Illinois

Oregon State junior point guard Ahmad Starks said Tuesday he will transfer to Illinois.

Ahmad Starks' three-point shooting could prove to be a valuable weapon for Illinois.
Starks, a 5-foot-9, 165-pound guard, decided to leave Oregon State to be closer to his ailing grandmother in Chicago. He will seek a family hardship waiver from the NCAA and could be eligible next season. He also considered transferring to Bradley.

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Jabari ParkerJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesJabari Parker might have gone to Illinois if John Groce had more time to recruit him.
Simeon coach Robert Smith believes Illinois' John Groce is on the right path as far as recruiting top talent out of Chicago.

In fact, Smith believes if Groce had been hired sooner, he might have had a shot at Jabari Parker.

Groce replaced Bruce Weber, who was fired, after the 2011-2012 season. Parker was already cutting his list of schools and eliminated Illinois from his choices. Parker had a good relationship with Weber, who had been recruiting him for years, but the uncertainty of change didn't sit well with the top recruit. Parker ultimately committed to Duke over BYU, Florida, Michigan State and Stanford.

Parker's teammates, Simeon senior guards Jaylon Tate and Kendrick Nunn, are both signed to play at Illinois next season.

"If Illinois had hired John Groce earlier, they would have had chance with Jabari," Smith said. "He was hired too late and Jabari was already looking at other schools. He wanted to play for his home state and win a national championship here.

"[I think Groce had a chance with Parker] because of his personality, him as a coach -- he let his players play -- and his charisma. I know Jaylon and Kendrick love him as a coach and person. I think that has a lot to do with them going there."

Smith believes those characteristics that will lead to Groce receiving future commitments from Chicago's premier players. One of the biggest criticisms of Weber was he failed to retain the state's top talent. Derrick Rose, Jon Scheyer, Sherron Collins, Evan Turner and Julian Wright chose to play out of state during Weber's Illinois tenure.
Curie forward Cliff Alexander, who is ranked No. 8 in the Class of 2014, is currently one of Illinois' main recruiting targets.

"I think it can happen with Cliff and getting him there and some of the other guys over there," Smith said. "I think Illinois has a real chance in the next three or four years to really do some things. I could see them go to the Final Four and possibly win a national championship in the next three or four years.

"It's just like the vision I had for Illinois when I was interested in the job. It's playing out without me being there. Coach Groce is doing a great job with that."

Groce was given a one-year contract extension and salary raise after this past season. He led Illinois to a 23-13 record, 8-10 in the Big Ten and to the NCAA tournament in his first year.

Groce's 2013 recruiting class is ranked No. 15 by ESPN. The class includes Nunn, Tate, small forward Malcolm Hill, power forward Austin Colbert and center Maverick Morgan. Illinois will also add three transfers -- Seton Hall sophomore guard Aaron Cosby, Illinois State junior forward Jon Ekey and Western Michigan forward Darius Paul.

ISU's Ekey to transfer to Illinois

April, 17, 2013
Illinois State forward Jon Ekey said Tuesday he will transfer to Illinois for his final season.

Ekey, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound redshirt junior forward, will be immediately eligible at Illinois as he will pursue a graduate degree unavailable at Illinois State. He also received interest from Boston College, Creighton, Nevada, Purdue, among others schools after recently announcing he was leaving Illinois State.

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Illinois' Shaw, Langford, Djimde to transfer

March, 29, 2013
Illinois sophomore Mike Shaw said Friday he planned to transfer after the spring semester.

Redshirt freshman forward Devin Langford and sophomore center Ibby Djimde are also transferring from Illinois, according to a source. Langford, a 6-foot-7, 200-pound swingman, averaged 0.5 points, 0.8 rebounds and 4.3 minutes in 22 games this past season. Djimde, a 6-foot-8, 245-pound center, averaged 1.7 minutes in 11 games.

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Greenberg: Groce has Illini peaking

February, 18, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. -- When Illinois hired John Groce as head coach, there was skepticism.

When the Illini won 12 in a row to start the season, beating Butler to win the Maui Invitational and taking a road game at Gonzaga, there was disbelief.

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Scoop: Illinois' fade looks familiar

January, 31, 2013
We've seen it before. Just last year. When the men's basketball team representing the University of Illinois opened up the season on a blaze only to self-implode once they hit the back nine, 10-0 before losing 15 of their last 21. This season: Deja vu.

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Source: Illinois hires Bill Cubit

January, 6, 2013
Illinois has hired former Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit to be its offensive coordinator, according to a source familiar with the situation.

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Illinois lands Simeon guard Tate

October, 4, 2012
John GroceAP Photo/David MercerJohn Groce is keeping the pipeline from Simeon to Illinois alive and well.
Chicago Simeon Career Academy senior guard Jaylon Tate committed to Illinois on Thursday.

The 6-2 Tate was offered a scholarship by Illini coach John Groce while making an official visit on Thursday. Tate is ranked the 54th-best point guard in the Class of 2013 by ESPN.

"I got a good vibe from the coaching staff," Tate said. "It feels like home. I feel comfortable there on and off the court."

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Illini impress Nunn; UCLA ruled out

September, 12, 2012
Kendrick NunnScott Powers/ESPNChicago.comKendrick Nunn likes the idea of being the player to turn things around for Illinois.
Simeon senior guard Kendrick Nunn has eliminated UCLA from his final list of five schools, and Memphis could soon follow with the same fate, leaving Illinois, Marquette and Ohio State, his father said on Wednesday.

Nunn's father, Melvin Nunn, said UCLA was cut from his son's list after the Bruins took a recent commitment from Allerik Freeman, who is ranked the No. 14 senior shooting guard in the country by ESPN. Nunn is ranked the No.17 shooting guard.

Melvin said Memphis may soon also fall from the list. Nunn had planned an official visit to Memphis on Sept. 21, but Melvin said he has yet to hear from any Memphis coaches to confirm the details. The Tigers also received a commitment from shooting guard Markel Crawford, who is ranked No. 34 at the position, in August.

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Illinois remains in pursuit of Parker

August, 27, 2012
Illinois coach John Groce has continued to recruit Chicago Simeon Career Academy forward Jabari Parker, the nation's No. 1 senior, and the Illini could still be considered, according to Parker's father and Simeon's coach on Monday.

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Illini a finalist for senior G Rathan-Mayes

August, 24, 2012
ESPN 100 senior guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes included Illinois along with Baylor, Connecticut, Florida State and Texas in his top five schools on Friday.

Rathan-Mayes, a 6-3 shooting guard, tweeted his list on Friday afternoon. He is ranked No. 23 in the Class of 2013 by ESPN. Rathan-Mayes is from Canada and plays at Huntington Prep in West Virginia.

ESPN recruiting analyst Reggie Rankin thought Rathan-Mayes including Illinois was a good sign for Illini first-year coach John Groce.

"I think that's very good news for Illinois," Rankin said. "He's one of the best scoring guards in the country. He's one of my favorite guards to watch. He can score in a lot of ways. The way John (Groce) is going to play this kid would get a lot of looks."

Illinois is also after Simeon senior guard Kendrick Nunn, another top 100 guard, and he's included the Illini in his top five as well. Rankin believed Nunn and Rathan-Mayes could complement each other.

"Kendrick Nunn is a different type of guard," Rankin said. "He can play on-the-ball defense, slasher, energy guy, score off the bounce. They could play together. I'd be doing back flips if I got both."

Illinois already has two Class of 2013 commitment s in wing Malcolm Hill and center Maverick Morgan.

Nebraska OL Klachko transferring to Illinois

August, 15, 2012
Former Nebraska offensive lineman Ryan Klachko has transferred to Illinois, Illini coach Tim Beckman announced on Wednesday.

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Illini vs. Huskies in Soldier Field in '13

August, 7, 2012
The University of Illinois will face the University of Washington in Soldier Field on Sept. 14, 2013.

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Source: Nowicki leaving PSU for Illinois

August, 2, 2012
Penn State redshirt freshman offensive lineman Ryan Nowicki is transferring to Illinois, according to a source familiar with the situation.

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Silas Redd remains undecided as to whether he will stay at Penn State, a source close to the star running back told

Meanwhile, Penn State coach Bill O'Brien said Wednesday that all of his players have been recruited by other team's coaches, and several players have received as many as 50 scholarships offers to play for opposing teams this fall.

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