Illini basketball

Newcomer: Aaron Cosby

Media Day 2014 seemed less exciting than previous years. Maybe it’s just me. I was exhausted from traveling the previous day.

But there was something else missing. The staff wasn’t around. Mike Basgier was just leaving as we filed into the Corzine Gym. “There’s no team photo today because the coaches are out recruiting,” he  said.

The hardest working staff in American college basketball is playing Terminator to all the Sarah Connors among 17 year-old point guards. They’re relentless. When John Groce finished with his media obligations, he abandoned the sport jacket he borrowed, one assumes, from some friendly giant, donned a tight-fitting white jumper, got in his SUV, and headed out to track that kid down.

But on the otherwise gloomy cold Thursday, two people seemed especially, even unusually cheerful. One was Malcolm Hill, who enters his second year unafraid, and unabashed. He freely admitted that he was nervous through much of last year. And who can blame him, he was seventeen years old, and had left the house for the first time. It happens to many if not most college kids. And in Malcolm’s case, he had an audience in the millions of people, watching his every step.

The other surprisingly cheerful guy was Aaron Cosby. Last spotted smiling in the early autumn of 2013, Cosby is now free to do what he does best: play basketball. That freedom seems to have bucked him up.

I asked his teammates about Aaron. What do they know about him as a person, and as a baller, that we didn’t know?

It turns out that he’s more than just a shooter.

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