Cosby recaps China; Sharma making visit
CHAMPAIGN — During his 16 days in China playing nine games in 10 days for Reach USA, Illinois guard Aaron Cosby saw a little bit of everything. Like the Great Wall of China.
“Something I didn’t think I’d ever get to see,” he said. “That was something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Playing in smoke-filled gyms, Cosby saw something else he’s never seen, or thought he’d see.
“A lot of people were smoking (cigarettes) over there and there’s no smoking age limit over there. Everybody was smoking. 10-year-old kids were smoking,” he said.
The basketball part of things went well for Cosby, who will be eligible this season for the Illini after sitting last season following his transfer from Seton Hall.
The 6-foot-3 junior averaged 18.1 points per game, 3.8 rebounds and shot 34.7 percent (25 of 72) from three-point range and 34.8 from the floor (54 of 155) during the trip.
“It was a great experience getting back on the court, shaking the rust off and getting back into a competitive setting,” Cosby said. “ It’s been a while (after) sitting out a year. I feel like I learned a lot, some things I can bring back and work hard on over the summer and take it to the season.”
The games, Cosby said, were up-tempo, light on defense with a 24-second shot clock and a slightly larger ball. He adjusted fine to all those nuances. Getting used to playing real games again took some time, though.
“First couple games I was winded because you know I haven’t played in a while,” Cosby said. “I just stayed aggressive. I was able to play through missing my first couple shots. Once I got over that I kind of got myself going, into a rhythm.”
When Illinois opens its summer workout schedule on Monday, Cosby will find himself competing for playing time with this year’s team, potentially a spot in the starting lineup. It’s a far cry from the last year when he was relegated to being a practice player helping the eligible players prepare for games.
“It’s a great feeling. Last year I was just kind of behind the scenes and now, you know, I feel like I’m back, I’m part of the team. I’m just ready to help and get things going,” he said. “Last year I took practice like the game. I was still a part of the team in practice. It was just game day, it was just kind of hard. In practice I tried to get after it. It was my game day.”
Sharma visiting Friday. Illinois will host 2015 four-star center Josh Sharma of Northfield (Mass.) Prep for an unofficial visit Friday. Sharma is currently on a tour of Midwest schools with some of his Northfield teammates, including Ohio Sttae, Xavier, Indiana, Northwestern and Purdue.
The 7-foot, 205-pound Sharma has offers from the Illini, UConn, Creighton, Gonzaga, Maryland, Kansas State and Oklahoma State among others. He attends the same prep school in the Northeast that produced Cosby.
Black misses USA Basketball cut. Leron Black’s bid to make USA Basketball’s U18 team that will compete at the FIBA Americas championships has come to an end. The incoming Illinois freshman was one of 24 players invited to the USA Basketball training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, but he was not among the 15 players named as finalist for the 12 spots on Thursday morning.
UI recruiting target Jalen Brunson was among the 15 players named.
The USA U18 team will compete in the FIBA Americas championships June 20-24 at the USOTC. Black will now join his UI teammates on campus this weekend and begin summer classes and workouts on Monday.