During Illinois's 12-0 start to the season the fans got a taste of how the offense might look with some shooters. The Illini made 39% of their 3-point attempts. They made 13-29 3s when they crushed USC. They made 10-25 in a win over Butler, and they won at Gonzaga by making 11-26.
But when your team is filled with high volume shooters who aren't necessarily good shooters, then a regression toward the mean should have been expected. Which is exactly what happened. By year's end they had fallen to 31.8%, good for 259th nationally.
On the recruiting trail John Groce was able to grab Kendrick Nunn, a consensus 4* shooting guard who is an exceptional shooter, but he whiffed on Xavier Rathan Mayes, another great shooter.
So, to add depth on the arc, Groce has turned to the transfer market and landed Aaron Cosby from Seton Hall.
Cosby, a former consensus 3* recruit out of Louisville, was a 2-year starter at Seton Hall. And those two years provided great insight into his play.
As a freshman, Cosby made 38% of his 3s. But he wasn't called upon to do much. He used less than 15% of the team's possessions when he was on the floor, and took just 17% of the shots. In other words, he was a 3-point specialist who didn't do much else.
As a sophomore, Coach Willard needed him to step up and help run the offense. He did fairly well as a combo guy. His shooting improved (40% from the arc) and his assist rate skyrocketed from a non-existent 9.1 to a solid 22.0. As expected with someone who has much more of the offense running through him, he ended up using over 23% of their possessions, which was right in the middle in terms of the starters.
He took more shots. He assisted on plenty of others. He scored 20 or more six times. The only downside was his turnover % (23.8). The ideal situation for a player like that is one where the team has a depth of guards, especially combo guards so that he isn't called upon to do too much.
Sounds a lot like Illinois, and I'd expect this to be a great fit.
Cosby, who canceled a trip to Missouri after he committed to Illinois, will have two years of eligibility after he sits out next season.