Sophomore Colbert to transfer away from Illinois basketball

Illinois head basketball coach John Groce announced Wednesday that sophomore forward Austin Colbert has decided to transfer.

“After meeting with Austin, he and I agree that it is in his best interest to pursue a fresh start and continue his education and basketball career at another institution,” Groce said in a press release.

The 6-foot-9-inch Colbert was a member of head coach John Groce’s first recruiting class at Illinois, ranked as the No. 36 power forward in the Class of 2013 by ESPN.com. The Virginia native’s commitment came as somewhat of a surprise, as Colbert spurned three eastern schools (Seton Hall, Miami, Villanova) in favor of Illinois.

Colbert received limited minutes under Groce, averaging 1.5 points and 1.5 rebounds per game over the course of two seasons. However, he came on strong near the end of his sophomore year, displaying a knack for timely rebounds and tip-ins — he averaged 3.6 rebounds over the final five games of the regular season.

The sophomore played 15 minutes in the Illini’s season-ending 79-58 loss to Alabama in the first round of the NIT.

Colbert is the sixth player to mutually agree to part ways with Groce and the Illini program. He joins Devin Langford, Myke Henry, Ibby Djimde, Mike Shaw and Aaron Cosby on the list of departures during Groce’s three years at Illinois.

If Colbert elects to transfer to a junior college, he can play right away. If he chooses to transfer to another Division I program, he will have to sit out a year, per NCAA rules.

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