We're continuing to roll through our player evaluations for the 2014-15 basketball season, and next up is junior transfer guard Aaron Cosby. While he's no longer with the Illinois program, Cosby accumulated a half-season's worth of stats for John Groce's team. We'll finish up the junior class over the course of this week before moving on to the freshman and sophomores in that order. You can expect the segments to be published about every two to three days.
Aaron Cosby | Junior | SG
Coming into the 2014-15 season, fans were optimistic about how Cosby would contribute to the team. He was known for his ability to knock down three-pointers and was coming off two solid years as a Seton Hall Pirate. His career started off very well -- he was almost 70% from deep in his first three games of the non-conference slate -- but it was unfortunately all downhill from there for the junior transfer.
Cosby had a stretch of seven straight games (essentially the month of December) where he averaged only three points and one assist per contest, and it was beginning to look like Groce's transfer-pickup was a bust. But he injected hope back into the Illinois faithful when he had a breakout performance against the Northwestern Wildcats at the beginning of Big Ten play. Perhaps he had finally adjusted to his role...
...Or not. In his next game against the Indiana Hoosiers in Champaign, Cosby was accidentally poked in the eye and had to exit in the first half of play. He never returned to the floor that day and it was announced the following week that he had a retinal tear in his left eye. He would be sidelined for at least two weeks. Once again the team and fanbase remained hopeful that when he returned from his injury Cosby would be ready for quality minutes in conference play, but his roller coaster season began to spiral even further out of control when it was announced he'd been suspended indefinitely due to a violation of team rules. Cosby ultimately never played another minute for Illinois, and he declared that he was going to transfer to Western Kentucky for his senior year.
at Northwestern | January
Easily Aaron's best game in an Illinois uniform, the guard was on fire from behind the arc since the opening tip. He knocked down four three's in the first half and went into the locker room with a season-high 15 points in the first twenty minutes of play. His quality play continued in the second half when he converted several key layups and jumpers to help the Illini to victory in Evanston. He finished with 19 points along with 5 rebounds and was BTN's "Player of the Game."
Final Grade: Incomplete
It would be easy for me to slap an F or D- on Cosby's report card; just look at the numbers. He averaged 6.8 points per game and was only a 29% shooter from three-point range, where he was supposed to be a sharpshooter for Illinois. He shot over 40% from behind the arc during his time at Seton Hall. He finished eight games with four points or less in around 30 minutes of play. The final blow, however, was when he was suspended for almost a month before announcing that he intended to transfer from the program. There's really no way to sugarcoat Cosby's 18 games as a Fighting Illini; it was a disaster. But it was only 18 games, specifically five Big Ten contests, and to evaluate his entire career here seems unfair due to how short-lived it was.
Next up on our evaluation schedule is Mike LaTulip--make sure to check back this week.