A closer look at scholarship numbers

A closer look at scholarship numbers

JaQuan Lyle dropped 44 points in an AAU game.

A few hours later, Darius Paul committed to Illinois.

Both noteworthy moments dominated Twitter late Saturday night.

And both recruiting tidbits were on the forefront of some Illinois basketball fans.


Scholarship numbers.

It's one of the most-often questions in regards to John Groce's team, who can only have 13 players on scholarship during a season. Those are the NCAA rules.

Consider that in late March, the Illinois did not have any open scholarships to use.

Then Mike Shaw, Devin Langford and Ibby Djimde announced they were transferring.

The moves opened up three scholarships for Illinois to use.

Which the Illini have. With transfers.

Aaron Cosby (Seton Hall), Jon Ekey (Illinois State) and Paul (Western Michigan) have all signified they were leaving their original schools to play for Groce.

The list could add another name.

Oregon State point guard Ahmad Starks visited Illinois last week and could make a decision soon.

Right now, Illinois has currently used all of its available scholarships for the 2013-14 season with the news that Paul is transferring.

That's without Starks in the fold.

Rumors are rampant that Myke Henry could transfer, which would free up a scholarship for next season.

But what if, say, Henry doesn't transfer and Starks arrives at Illinois?

Looking at the numbers, that would give Illinois 14 players for the 2013-14 season on scholarship (Mike LaTulip is a walk-on), but two of those players (Cosby and Paul) aren't eligible because of transfer rules.

That would leave one player on the Illinois roster who could not be on scholarship then.

It's a particular sticky situation, but one that would have a way of working itself out.

Recruiting numbers always have a way of doing that.

Since Illinois has become a popular destination for transfer players (six since Groce assumed the job in March 2012), what does that mean for high school recruits?

Illinois is slated to lose two scholarships after the 2013-14 season after Joe Bertrand and Ekey use up their eligibility, which would free up one scholarship left for the Class of 2014 (still following along?).

Champaign Centennial big man Michael Finke, a Class of 2014 prospect, would take the spot of either Bertrand or Ekey's scholarship.

That would leave Groce and his staff only one scholarship (this is assuming Henry is still around) to use on a highly-touted Class of 2014 among the likes of Lyle, the Evansville Bosse guard, Chicago Curie power forward Cliff Alexander and others.

All of this is dependent upon the Illinois roster staying put.

While the approach to take on transfers or try to lure several high-level high school players can be debated by fans for endless hours, this is the scholarship number scenario facing Illinois men's basketball. At least for right now.


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IlliniMike05 wrote on May 06, 2013 at 10:05 am

"Recruiting numbers always have a way of doing that."

This. Always this.

One of these days, I hope our fans will smarten up and stop freaking out over scholarship limits. If there are 5-star prospects ready to commit, we'll have a spot for them. If we don't have a spot, well, Groce probably knows better than us how well we stand with those recruits, and that a)there's no sense holding the door open for them and to end up doing nothing, and b)transfers who are proven D-I players is pretty damn good as far as backup plans go. Especially when they're quality players like Paul, Rice and Cosby who are basically the equivalent, talent-wise, of solid Top 100 four-star recruits.


Bone East 1999 wrote on May 06, 2013 at 11:05 am

I hope Myke doesn't leave and is a stud for us next year.

ptevonian wrote on May 06, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I like Myke Henry -- he's athletic, he rebounds his position, and by all accounts he gets the ball in the basket.  But will he be lead scorer for Illinois?  People around the program talk about Ray Rice being that, but not Myke.  Why is that?

Perhaps a more important question, can Myke play defense like Groce wants? 

Still, if he transfers out, we really need a quality recruit in his spot for 2014.  Losing him is a much bigger hit than losing Ibby, Shaw or Langford.

GW wrote on May 07, 2013 at 9:05 am

I don't want to see Myke Henry leave either. He's shown the ability to rebound and is always scrapping for loose balls. No doubt, with work he will improve on the defensive side of the ball and become more consistent with his shot.

Go Illini!!