CHAMPAIGN - Illinois head coach John Groce announced Wednesday that Seton Hall's Aaron Cosby and Illinois State's Jon Ekey have signed tenders of financial aid and will transfer to Illinois following the completion of the spring semester. Cosby will sit out the upcoming season and have two years of eligibility remaining with the Illini during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. Ekey, meanwhile, will enroll as a graduate student and is eligible to compete immediately for the Fighting Illini during the 2013-14 season under the NCAA one-time transfer exception.
Ekey posted career-high averages of 9.0 points and 4.9 rebounds during the 2011-12 season, starting 32 of 35 games. He shot nearly 41 percent from 3-point range, making 59-of-145 from behind the arc. Ekey scored in double figures 16 times, led by a pair of season-high 19-point outings versus Chicago State (Nov. 30, 2011) and Oakland (Feb. 18, 2012). He also scored 17 points at Morehead State (Dec. 7, 2011) behind a career-best five 3-pointers. Ekey earned Cancun Challenge All-Tournament Team honors after registering 14 points against Illinois in the title game (Nov. 23, 2011). He also tallied a career-best 13 rebounds in back-to-back games against Northern Iowa (Dec. 29, 2011) and Southern Illinois (Jan. 1, 2012).
Ekey averaged 4.6 points and 4.0 rebounds as a redshirt freshman in 2010-11 and also led the Missouri Valley in blocked shots with 52. He scored a career-high 22 points against UNC-Wilmington (Dec. 20, 2010). Ekey totaled 668 points and 432 rebounds at Illinois State and was a career 36.5-percent 3-point shooter (112-307). He also ranks sixth on the ISU all-time blocks list with 110.
A native of Independence, Mo., Ekey is a two-time All-Valley Scholar Athlete, earning second-team honors last season and first-team accolades in 2011-12. He will graduate from ISU in May with a bachelor's degree in business administration.
"Jon is a skilled forward who will be a great fit in our system," Groce said. "He has a high basketball IQ, is an exceptional shooter, and also defends, blocks shots and rebounds. Jon will make an immediate impact on our program by providing experience to a young roster."
Cosby is a 6-3, 190-pound guard who started 27 of 31 games last season as a sophomore at Seton Hall, ranking second on the team in scoring with an average of 12.6 points. He shot 40 percent from 3-point range, connecting on 66-of-165 from behind the arc. Cosby's 3-point percentage was sixth among Big East players, while his average of 2.1 threes per game ranked seventh in the conference. He also was second on the Pirates in assists with a 3.0 average.
Cosby scored in double figures in 21 games, with six 20-plus point performances. He scored a career-high 25 points against Connecticut on Feb. 10, hitting 10-of-15 from the field, including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Cosby set a career high with five 3-pointers at Notre Dame on Jan. 5.
Cosby started 31 of 34 games as a freshman, averaging 7.9 points and earning Seton Hall Freshman Athlete of the Year honors. He scored in double figures 11 times, led by a season-high 19 points against Pittsburgh (Feb. 12, 2012). He also made 66 3-pointers as a rookie, shooting 37.7 percent from long distance.
During his two-year career at Seton Hall, Cosby totaled 637 points (9.8 ppg) and was a 38.8 percent shooter from 3-point range (132-340).
Cosby hails from Louisville, Ky. and played at duPont Manual and Jeffersontown High Schools before attending Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts as a senior.
"Aaron is versatile guard who impacts the game in a number of areas," Groce said. "He was a 40-percent 3-point shooter in the Big East, so he's obviously a tremendous shooter. But in addition to his shooting and scoring ability, he can handle the ball and make plays for others. Aaron will bring leadership to our team right away and adds proven experience to our backcourt."
Ekey is a 6-7, 220-pound forward who started 18 of 33 games for the Redbirds last season, averaging 6.5 points and 4.2 rebounds. He scored in double figures in 10 games, led by a season-high 18 points versus Morgan State on Dec. 18.