CHAMPAIGN — Count Illinois coach John Groce among those who’s unclear on how the NCAA decides to whom it grants hardship waivers for immediate eligibility after transfers and to whom it doesn’t.
A day after Oregon State transfer Ahmad Starks was ruled ineligible to play at Illinois for the 2013-14 season, Groce expressed his disappointment for Starks and a system questioned by college basketball folks across the country.
“We felt, no question about it, he had a compelling story. He’s very close with his grandmother. She helped raise him. He moved from Oregon State to Illinois, (2,000)-some miles. I thought his case was very, very valid. We were really disappointed,” Groce said Wednesday. “Not only was I disappointed, I don’t understand the consistencies and inconsistencies in the waiver process. It’s amazing as you read about some of these guys that get waivers, and distance didn’t matter. All of a sudden in this one, it does. It’s crazy.”
The 5-foot-9 point guard, who left Oregon State after three years as a starter for the Beavers to be close to his ailing grandmother in Chicago, figured to play a prominent role for the Illini this season. The Whitney Young product averaged 10.4 points per game and shot 40 percent from behind the three-point line as a junior last season.
Along with returning starter Tracy Abrams, freshman Jaylon Tate and sophomore walk-on Mike LaTulip will handle point-guard duties.
“It is what it is. At some point, you’ve got to move on and get ready for what’s next and play the cards you’re dealt; that’s part of it,” Groce said.