The offseason transfer market is college basketball's version of free agency; each year hundreds of players leave programs for a multitude of reasons. Transfers have been extremely important to the Illini over the course of John Groce's tenure and there's a good chance that this trend will continue into the upcoming season.
Illinois currently has one open scholarship next year thanks to Aaron Cosby's mid-season departure. However that could potentially change in the coming days as John Groce is conducting individual meetings with each player on the roster; it sounds like there's a chance someone may be on the way out, but we'll obviously have to wait and see.
Transfers now have somewhat of a negative connotation surrounding them after the team's most recent campaign and that isn't fair. Remember that Sam McLaurin was a strong defensive presence throughout the 2012-13 season, Jon Ekey provided some much needed depth during a transitional year, and Rayvonte Rice became one of the best players in the Big Ten during his two season in Champaign. The bottom line is that adding the right player in the right situation could very well be the difference in making the NCAA Tournament.
Here's a short list of players that the Illinois coaching staff has already contacted.
Trey Lewis | PG | Cleveland State
16.3PPG, 4.4RPG, 2.9APG
Trey Lewis originally signed with Penn State, but he transferred to Cleveland State after one season in Happy Valley. Lewis, who will be immediately eligible after graduating this Spring, was the Viking's leading scorer this past season at 16.3 points per game.
In addition to Illinois, Lewis has also received interest from Xavier, Purdue, Iowa State, Florida State, Dayton, Clemson, Louisville, Georgetown, Indiana, Georgia Tech, and Ole Miss.
Shonn Miller | PF | Cornell
16.8PPG, 8.5RPG, 1.8BPG
Shonn Miller is an interesting case because he has essentially become a free agent due to an Ivy League rule that prohibits graduate students from playing. Miller, who took a medical redshirt during his junior year thanks to a shoulder injury, will be one of the most sought after transfers this offseason.
Mike Thorne | C | Charlotte
10.1PPG, 7.3RPG, 0.9BPG
Mike Thorne Jr. will be another popular transfer option this offseason. Like the other players on this list, the Charlotte big man will have one year of eligibility and can play immediately.
UPDATE: Thorne will make his decision on April 25th; he has narrowed his to Illinois, Kansas, and Pittsburgh. Thorne will visit Champaign on April 17th.
Thorne is No. 12 in the above video
We'll continue to update this post if/when other players are contacted. You can click here to see a complete list of Division-I transfers.