Groce on Cosby: 'I wish him nothing but the best'

Groce on Cosby: 'I wish him nothing but the best'

CHAMPAIGN — It’s been more than a month since Aaron Cosby took the floor in an Illinois uniform, and it turns out that game on Jan. 18 against Indiana at State Farm Center was his last as an Illini.

Illinois coach John Groce announced on Friday that he and the 6-foot-3 guard mutually decided to part ways.

Cosby had missed the past seven games — two with an eye injury and the last five because of a suspension for violating team rules.

“It’s one of those deals where it made sense after several discussions that he and I had over the last week to week and a half; I think it made sense for us to part ways,” Groce said. “I think the world of Aaron, and I thank he and his family for the opportunity to coach him. We’re going to do nothing but support him and help him. I want Aaron to be successful as a human being, as a student as he continues to finish up here pursuing his degree from Illinois and I’m confident he will do that. And help him as a player as well.”

Cosby will remain in school at Illinois to finish the spring semester in an effort to earn his degree and then plans to transfer to another school to finish his career while pursuing a master’s degree. He will become immediately eligible under the NCAA’s fifth-year transfer rules.

Cosby sat out the 2013-14 season after he transferred to Illinois from Seton Hall before seeing his first action in an Illini uniform this season. The Louisville, Ky., native started 13 of the 19 games in which he appeared, averaging 7.8 points and 3.6 rebounds.

“I wish him nothing but the best. I want him to do really well as I do all the guys that come into our program and come out of our program. Once you’re in, you’re in and certainly we’re here to help them and we’re going to be here to help him as we transition to that next phase,” Groce said. “At the end of the day, those guys are in our family once they come in and it's certainly no different when that time comes and they exit. It’s different for different guys. We wish him nothing but the best, and we’re going to do everything in our power to help him. I want him to be happy.”

Cosby shot 29.3 percent from the floor and 31.1 percent from three-point range. The high point of his Illinois career was a 19-point effort in a win Jan. 14 at Northwestern.

"I have a great relationship with my coaches and teammates here at Illinois, but feel it’s in my best interest to seek out a new opportunity,” Cosby said in a statement. “I’m thankful for everyone in the program for their support and look forward to the next chapter in my basketball career.”

Until Illinois’ last two games, Cosby was with the team daily and sat on the bench on game days, both home and away. He remains in contact with his teammates, who say they will remain supportive of Cosby as he moves on.

“We really support him. We still talk to him. Hopefully everything that he does in the future goes well,” senior Nnanna Egwu said. “He was really great for us, a really great teammate. We’re really going to miss him on the team. Things happen for a reason and I wish him the best of luck.”

Said Malcolm Hill: “I appreciate everything he’s done for me. He’s been a great teammate to me, even though he had an up-and-down season, he was still supportive of me. When he was injured, he was telling me to be aggressive, so I appreciate him for that.”