Illinois Basketball has announced that sophomore forward Austin Colbert will be leaving the program; he averaged 1.7 points and 2.2 rebounds per game this year while playing just under 8 minutes per contest. Colbert is now the second player to transfer from Illinois this offseason, he joins junior guard Aaron Cosby who announced he'll be headed to Western Kentucky as a graduate transfer.
Statement from John Groce:
"After meeting with Austin, he and I agree that it is in his best interest to pursue a fresh start and continue his education and basketball career at another institution. We are appreciative of the effort Austin gave during his time at Illinois, and we will fully support him and his family throughout the transfer process."
Statement from Austin Colbert:
"I've enjoyed my two years here and leave with a lot of great memories. I want to thank my teammates, coaches, fans and the Orange Krush for all their support."
Colbert was a 4-star recruit when he originally committed to the Illini out of Gill St. Bernard School in Lakeville, CT. He selected Illinois over Villanova, Seton Hall, Miami, and Vanderbilt and helped solidify the program's 2013 recruiting class as one of the top 20 in the nation.
Colbert's freshman campaign left a lot to be desired (1.7 points and 0.8 rebounds per game) and it was more of the same during his second season. He did, however, finally show some noticeable improvements late in the year, but his overall production didn't exactly project to any meaningful playing time as an upperclassmen.
Before we get into what's next for the Illini, here's how Colbert's transfer impacts the roster.
Projected 2015-16 Depth Chart
|Point Guard||Shooting Guard||Small Forward||Power Forward||Center|
|Tracy Abrams (SR)||Kendrick Nunn (JR)||Malcolm Hill (JR)||Leron Black (SO)||Darius Paul (JR)|
|Jaylon Tate (JR)||Jalen Coleman-Lands (FR)||Aaron Jordan (FR)||D.J. Williams (FR)||Michael Finke (FR)|
|Maverick Morgan (JR)|
So without Colbert, Illinois now has two open scholarships for the 2015-16 season and they need to add another body in the front court--another guard wouldn't hurt either. Luckily, the coaching staff is already pursuing a few transfers that could make an immediate impact.
Former Charlotte center Mike Thorne Jr. will be in Champaign for a visit next weekend before announcing his next destination on April 25th; he'll have one season of eligibility as a graduate transfer. Illinois is also in great position for Villanova transfer Dylan Ennis. There's no public time table for his decision, but the two sides did sit down for an extended face-to-face meeting on April 9th.
We'd obviously like to wish Austin the best as he moves on to the next chapter of his life. It really seemed like he enjoyed his time here, but, again, it was hard to see him as anything more than a role player going forward. We'll make sure to provide an update when Colbert selects his next school.