Just so it's clear: There should be nothing disturbing about the announcement Friday that three Illini players are transferring, rather than languishing on the bench.
The trio--sophomores Mike Shaw, from De La Salle, and Ibby Djimde, from West Virginia, and redshirt freshman Devin Langford, from Alabama--were all recruited by Bruce Weber and were not suited to Groce's system.
Situations like this sometimes cast coaches in a bad light. That should not be the case here. There was a coaching change, and this is a tough business. More importantly, it seems natural that talented young men would want to be somewhere where they have a chance to fulfill their basketball dreams.
The transfers mean Illinois is likely to be relying on five freshmen behind the expected starters: returnees Tracy Abrams and Nnanna Egwu, sixth-man Joseph Bertrand and Myke Henry, plus Drake transfer Rayvonte Rice.
But that would probably have been pretty much the case even if Shaw, Djimde and Langford had remained in the picture.
``Mike, Ibby and Devin are outstanding young men who have always represented the University of Illinois in a first-class manner,'' Groce said in a statement. ``We will help them in any we can during this process to find the best fit, so that they are able to achieve their goals on the basketball court and in the classroom.''
No question, Groce and the program will benefit from having the opportunity to re-deploy their scholarships. But this also gives the three players the chance to do what they want to do. That wasn't going to happen at Illinois.