Groce says summer will be "huge"

Published 05/12 2014 04:24PM

Updated 05/12 2014 06:38PM

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - In John Groce's words, this summer will be "huge' for his team as they try to build off a strong finish to last season and work their way back into the NCAA Tournament picture next year.  Illinois returns all but two players (Bertrand, Ekey) from last year's team, and Groce - who is entering his third season - is looking forward to the chance to work his team for eight weeks in the offseason.  Strength and conditioning will be an important point of emphasis heading into next season.

"This summer is going to really be huge for us," Groce said.  "We get eight weeks with them.  Some of our guys obviously have different needs.  A guy like Ray Rice had to drop weight when he came in, and a guy like Nnanna Egwu needed to gain weight.  So we've got all those individually specifically laid out for each kid.  We've attacked it some this spring, but I think the summer months are going to be really instrumental."

Groce will add three transfers who are all eligible to play this season - Ahmad Starks, Aaron Cosby, and Darius Paul - though Paul remains suspended from basketball activities after an offseason arrest.  Groce will also add two incoming freshmen - Leron Black and Michael Finke.

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