Cosby Could Boost 3-Point Percentage

Aaron Cosby had to watch as his teammates struggled to hit long-range shots last season.

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois had a hard time hitting 3-point baskets last season, especially by season's end when time and time again the Illini had trouble scoring all together.

The hope is that Aaron Cosby and Ahmad Starks can change that look.

"I think so, I think so," Cosby said.

Cosby shot 40 percent as a sophomore at Seton Hall. He ended his career as a Pirate as a hot streak, hitting 28 of his 59 treys (47.4 percent) in that season's final 10 games.

Cosby doesn't see any reason why he can't duplicate those percentages.

"I feel like I'm a better shooter than I was then," he said. "I've had a year to work on it and you know smooth some things out. I feel like I'm a better player."

The Louisville, Ky., native recently travelled to China with an organization called Sports Reach. Labeled as a cultural exchange basketball trip, Cosby averaged 18.1 points and shot 34.7 percent from 3-point range. He led the team in scoring four times, notching 27 points on two occasions.

It was the first time Cosby got into a competitive game since transferring to Illinois.

"It's a great feeling. Last year I was just kind of behind the scenes and now, you know, I feel like I'm back, I'm part of the team," he said. "I'm just ready to help and get things going."

Last season wasn't always easy. Cosby did his best to stay motivated, but practicing with full effort and focus without the reward of playing in games took it's toll. A few off practices turned into a couple weeks of play that wasn't at the level Cosby had previously been playing at.

A mid-season meeting with Coach John Groce got Cosby going back in the right direction.

"He kind of got my mind right, kind of opened up with each other a little bit about expectations of each other and I felt the confident level both ways with each other kind of grew," Cosby said. "That's when it kind of took off from there."

From there, Cosby joined a practice squad with Starks and now-gone Darius Paul. The group acted as a scout team for the starters to prepare. The action was intense.

"I took practice like the game," Cosby said. "I was still a part of the team in practice. It was just game day, it was just kind of hard. In practice I tried to get after it. It was my game day."

Summer workouts are now underway and the season is rapidly approaching. Cosby knows that same starting line-up he scrimmaged against last season is intact. He says he's not worried about what his status will be, starter or coming off the bench. He's glad to be able to contribute.

"I'm going to focus on things I can control," he said. "That's getting better every day and that's improving my game so when I go out there I can do what I can to help the team."

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