Ahmad Starks eyes Illinois, Bradley

Oregon State junior point guard Ahmad Starks said Sunday he is considering transferring to Bradley or Illinois to be closer to his ailing grandmother.

Starks, a Chicago native, has started 73 games in three seasons at Oregon State. The 5-foot-9 guard averaged 10.4 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 assists as a junior last season, shooting 64-of-162 from 3-point range.

Starks said his paternal grandmother often took care of him when he was younger and she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and dementia in recent years.

"I'm really close to her," said Starks, who played at Whitney Young High School in Chicago. "She's been with me ever since I was about 5. When my parents were starting up their business back in the day, I was always with her. She's raised me my whole life.

"It's really tough to see here getting worse and worse. Even the last two visits, she's had trouble remembering me. It's really tough to see. It's tough being away from her."

Starks said he's been in contact with coaches at Bradley and Illinois, and both programs expressed a need for a point guard next season.

Illinois returns point guard Tracy Abrams, who started 32 games as a sophomore last season. The Illini's only other point guard on the roster will be freshman Jaylon Tate, who played at Simeon Career Academy in Chicago this past season.

Bradley is in need of an experienced point guard due to the graduation of senior Dyricus Simms-Edwards, who started 93 games over the last three seasons. The Braves will return junior combo guard Walt Lemon Jr., who started 35 games, freshman point guard Ka'Darryl Bell, who averaged 9.1 minutes in 31 games, and sophomore point guard Anthony Fields, who sat out last season after transferring from Wake Forest.

"I definitely want to be as close as possible to home, and I want to further my career as well," Starks said. "I'm going to be playing basketball in the future. I have to think about that. Those two are good basketball schools, good programs, good school environments. They're close to home. I have connections there.

"The conversations I've had, they both want/need a veteran point guard to kind of help them out in that area, handle the ball, shoot the ball, control the team. I think I can provide that for both programs."

Starks said he'd like to make the decision soon and may not visit either school before choosing. He also said he would be finished with classes at Oregon State in June.

Starks would be eligible next season if the NCAA permits him a waiver due to his grandmother's health. The NCAA does require the school to be within 100 miles of the immediate family member's home.