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Illinois adding Jon Ekey, Aaron Crosby transfers to bolster shooting

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Illinois is adding two transfers to its suddenly thin roster in the form of two shooters, one who could help right away and one who will have to sit out a season

Coach John Groce said Wednesday that Illinois State forward Jon Ekey and Seton Hall guard Aaron Crosby have agreed to join Illinois. Ekey will play immediately as a graduate-student transfer, while Crosby, who will be a junior next season, will have to sit out under NCAA rules.

"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.

Ekey was a 44.6 percent shooter and averaged 6.4 points and 4.2 rebounds a game last season. He started 18 games and played in all 33 under first-year coach Dan Muller. The previous season, under then-coach Tim Jankovic, Ekey averaged 9 points and almost 5 rebounds a game in 32 starts.

Crosby started 27 games last season at guard for Seton Hall and averaged 12. 6 points, including hitting 66 of his 165 3-point attempts. He was second on the team in assists with 92.

"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

Illinois is losing seniors Brandon Paul, Tyler Griffey and D.J. Richardson, three of the best shooters off of last season's 23-13 NCAA tournament team. Paul led the team with 16.6 points a game. He and Richardson took more than half the team's 3-point shots, hitting on a combined 161-498 (32.3 percent).

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