During the season, Austin Colbert was a regular ol' freshman getting regular ol' scant freshman minutes. He performed decent enough for a raw talent, scoring a few buckets, grabbing a few rebounds. He was a non-story, a developing story, a story I figured I'd put to the side and check back when the plot developed.
These were the truths of early-to-mid-March. They are not the truths now. His story now isn't a story as much as it is a question mark: Will Austin Colbert be on the Illinois roster for the 2014-15 season?
John Groce has pursued three transfer players this offseason to the point of scheduling in-home visits. Some argue that Groce's interest was simply a feeler, not a true, aggressive recruiting effort. Even if that is true, he still recruited. He still scheduled in-home visits. All of this effort was put forth without an available scholarship spot.
The thought process is that with Groce recruiting, despite no scholarships, an open spot must be unapparent, but there, somewhere, between the lines. The thought process was that someone must be transferring, and everyone assumed that'd be the guy at the end of the bench, Austin Colbert.
Then Austin Colbert reportedly wanted to stay, so Groce reportedly backed off recruits, and the whole rumor mill filled with empty whispers. It was just a lot of hot breathing, to which I contributed. No one knew. No one. Maybe John Groce knew, but that's it.
That's Austin Colbert's offseason. Here was his season.
He played in 22 of 35 games, averaging 5.5 minutes per appearance. To the eye, there were things to like about Colbert's season. He seemed to develop a chemistry with Jaylon Tate, especially on the pick-and-roll, which bodes well for future pick-and-rolls. He also looked big, but with room to get bigger. The kid was born in 1994. Give him a break.
If Colbert stays at Illinois--something that seems likely now--I would be happy. He's nothing but a foundation, waiting to support the career of an inside presence. Most of his points were on dunks, too, and that's always a positive.
The window to transfer certainly hasn't passed. Last year, Myke Henry's transfer didn't become official until May (Mike Shaw, Devin Langford and Ibby Djimde announced their departure in March). Colbert could still follow the tracks of those fellows, but I don't want him to. I want more Colbert dunks. I want him to dunk for the University of Illinois.