Illinois basketball and guard Aaron Cosby part ways

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Illinois’ Aaron Cosby (11) shoots the ball during the game against Oregon at United Center in Chicago, Illinois on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. It was announced Friday that Cosby is no longer on the team.

Illinois men’s basketball head coach John Groce announced Friday that Illinois and junior guard Aaron Cosby have “parted ways.”

The mutual decision for Cosby to leave the team comes after Cosby sat out the Illini’s last seven games due to injury and suspension.

Cosby has been out of Illinois’ rotation after tearing the retina in his left eye during a game against Indiana on Jan. 18. On Jan. 31 Cosby and fellow guard Rayvonte Rice were both suspended indefinitely for violation of a team rule.

Rice returned to the Illini from his suspension against Michigan on Feb. 12. 

“After having further discussions with Aaron and evaluating the situation from both sides, he and I have mutually agreed that it is best to part ways,” Groce said in a press release. “I enjoyed coaching Aaron and appreciate the contributions he made during his time here. I wish him success and will be rooting for him to have a great finish to his career.”

Following the Michigan game on Feb. 12, Groce said that he had told Cosby to take a week off from basketball. After talking with Cosby several times this week, Groce decided it would be best if Cosby and the team parted ways.

Although he is no longer a member of the Illini, Cosby will continue his education through the spring semester with plans to graduate from the University before transferring to another institution to pursue a master’s degree and use his final year of eligibility. 

“I have a great relationship with my coaches and teammates here at Illinois, but feel it’s in my best interest to seek out a new opportunity,” Cosby said. “I’m thankful for everyone in the program for their support and look forward to the next chapter in my basketball career.”

Groce added that he appreciated the opportunity to coach Cosby during his time on the Illini. 

“I think the world of Aaron and I thank him and his family for the opportunity to coach him,” Groce said. We’re going to do nothing but support him and help him. I want Aaron to be successful as a human being, as a student, as he continues to finish up her pursuing his degree from Illinois.”

Before the injury, Cosby had played in the first 19 games of the season and started 13 of them. He his Illinois career-high of 19 points against Northwestern on Jan. 14 and was averaging 7.8 points per game. 

A career 38.8 percent shooter from three in his two years at Seton Hall, Cosby sat out last season after transferring to Illinois. This year, Cosby shot well below his career average during his time on the floor. He only managed 29.1 percent from the field and 31.1 percent from three before his injury. 

Sophomore guard Malcolm Hill praised Cosby for being an outstanding teammate during his time with the team and said he has kept in contact with Cosby. 

“I still talk to him,” Hill said. “He’s been a great teammate to me. Even though he had an up and down season, he was always still supportive of me.” 

Senior center Nnanna Egwu said the team still supports Cosby and wishes him the best in whatever he does in life. 

“We hope that everything he does in the future goes well,” Egwu said. “He was really great for us. We’re really going to miss him on the team.” 

Nicholas can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @IlliniSportsGuy.