Illinois 2014-2015 Depth Chart

Joe Robbins

Illinois looks to build off of a strong late season run.

Soon the 2014-2015 freshman basketball class will be hitting campus.  As the new freshman class arrives I thought it would be a good time to look at the depth chart for the 2014-2015 Fighting Illini. The will be a couple highly contested position battles between established veterans and transferring newcomers. The turnover from last year has been very small, with only two graduating seniors and one transfer who was kicked off the team.  Minutes will be tight at most positions and some players may get shifted around to find extra playing time.

Back Court

The first position battle will be at point guard.  Two year starter and returning captain Tracy Abrams will have to fight for his life against newcomer Ahmad Starks.  Starks has received high praise from coach John Groce and may have the upper edge on the starting spot come November. Aaron Cosby played the point at times at Seton Hall and could be a viable option if Abrams and Starks get into foul trouble. Jaylon Tate may be a redshirt prospect for this season, since Abrams and Starks will hog most of the minutes at point, and Aaron Cosby will probably take the rest.

Another interesting position for Illinois is at shooting guard.  Illinois is loaded with players that can not only play the position but probably start for many other D1 teams. Kendrick Nunn emerged mid way through the last season, and propelled Illinois out of an eight game losing streak.  He should start on day one this year but will have to battle transfer, Aaron Cosby.  Cosby is a great shooter who has good handles and the ability to get to the rim.  Any leftover minutes will be taken by either Abrams or Starks depending on which player doesn’t start at point guard.

Front Court

The first three names for both small forward and power forward are the same.  Malcolm Hill, Rayvonte Rice and Leron Black; Hill and Rice will start and Black should be the third in line for both positions.  Most likely Rayvonte will start at the three and Hill at the four.  This will be determined more by the players they are tasked with guarding rather than the offensive role they are meant to fill.  John Groce runs a system that mixes the three and four throughout the game, with both positions asked to post up in the paint, shoot the three and drive into the lane.  Leron Black has the skillset to play either position, although early in his career he will mostly be used at power forward.  Coach Groce likes to ease freshman into his system, by only teaching one position during their freshman year.  Power forward fits what Leron Black does now, but as he becomes a better shooter he will most likely try to transition to small forward.  Black has aspirations of playing in the NBA, and because of his size he will be more suited to play small forward at that level. Illinois will play small at times, with Aaron Cosby and Kendrick Nunn picking up minutes as extra shooting guards, while Austin Colbert and Freshman Michael Finke will battle for the any remaining minutes at power forward.

The starting center at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season will be Nnanna Egwu.  He started every game last season and the only player on the Illinois roster with comparable skill, Maverick Morgan, is still a season away from competing for a starting spot.  Nnanna was great on defense last season, blocking many shots, and forcing opposing players to pass off rather than attacking the basket.  Maverick Morgan while not ready to fight for a starting spot, is going to be a very competent backup.  He is strong in the paint and has a couple of very good post moves.  Austin Colbert will take any remaining minutes, which will mostly occur because Egwu and Morgan are in foul trouble.

Depth Chart

Point Guard

Name Class Height PPG APG SPG A/T Ratio RPG
Tracy Abrams Senior 6'2" 10.68 3.2 1.2 3/2 3.5
Ahmad Starks Senior 5’9" 10.4 2.3 1.0 2/1 2.0
Aaron Cosby Junior 6’3" 12.6 3 .4 1/1 2.5
Jaylon Tate Sophomore 6’3" 1.8 1.9 .4 2/1 .9

Shooting Guard

Name Class Height PPG APG SPG RPG
Kendrick Nunn Sophomore 6’3" 6.2 1.1 .6 1.7
Aaron Cosby Junior 6’3" 12.6 3 .4 2.5
Ahmad Starks Senior 5’9" 10.4 2.3 1.0 2.0
Tracy Abrams Senior 6’2" 10.68 3.2 1.2 3.5

Small Forward

Name Class Height PPG APG SPG RPG
Rayvonte Rice Senior 6’4"

15.9

1.5

1.7

6

Malcolm Hill Sophomore 6’6"

4.4

0.7

0.3

2.4

Leron Black Freshman 6’7" N/A N/A N/A N/A
Aaron Cosby Junior 6’3"

12.6

3

0.4

2.5

Kendrick Nunn Sophomore 6’3"

62

1.1

0.6

1.7

Power Forward

Name Class Height PPG APG RPG BPG
Malcolm HIll Sophomore 6’6" 4.4 .7 2.4 .1
Rayvonte Rice Senior 6’4" 15.9 1.5 6 .3
Leron Black Freshman 6’7" N/A N/A N/A N/A
Austin Colbert Sophomore 6’9" 1.3 .2 .8 .1
Michael Finke Freshman 6’9" N/A N/A N/A N/A

Center

Name Class Height PPG APG RPG BPG
Nnanna Egwu Senior 6’11" 6.9 .4 6 2.1
Maverick Morgan Sophomore 6’10" 1.5 .1 1.2 .2
Austin Colbert Sophomore 6’9" 1.3 .2 .8 .1

Conclusion

Overall, this is the deepest roster that Illinois has had for many years.  They are two to three players deep at every position which will allow them to use their bench as a major advantage. The new found depth should allow Illinois to get out into transition more and push the pace all game long.

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