Many names have been talked about as priorities in the class of 2020 for the Illini Mens Basketball program. Adam Miller, DJ Steward and Nimari Burnett are all dynamic players in their own ways but one name has quietly been at the top of the PG list for over a year. That young man’s name is Andre Curbelo, likely the best all-around ball handler and assist man in the entire 2020 class.
Whether on the International scene in Greece at the FIBA world Cup or on the AAU scene in Birmingham, Alabama. Curbelo has always made his teammates better and performed well at the highest level. Curbelo led the Adidas series in assists earlier this month and while in Greece at the previously mentioned FIBA World Cup, he averaged 12 points and 6 assists a game. Illini Assistant Coach Orlando Antigua followed Curbelo across the globe with a courtside seat for a reason. They want him in Orange in Blue.
In his words with Andre Curbelo
When I asked Andre about his relationship with the Illinois staff he told me he talks to Head Coach Brad Underwood but he has a special relationship with Assistant Orlando Antigua.
So special in fact, he said “Its actually the best relationship with any coach who is recruiting me from any school. Its more than just basketball with him, we talk about life and I am extremely comfortable with him. He has known me since I was a little boy. My father and him used to play against each other when they were younger.”
In describing his best quality as a player on the court, Andre told me “Definitely a leader on the court. I enjoy helping set up my teammates and making others better. I have high baksetball IQ and I will do whatever it takes to win and compete each possession.”
I asked Andre what was one thing he wanted to improve his game on heading into his senior year at LUHI in New York. He said “I want to be more consistent with my jump shot. I don’t think its broken or anything but teams are waiting for me in the paint off ballscreens because they know I can create so well and get in the lane. I want to add another dimension to my game to take it to the next level.”
With his summer AAU season winding down and closing, I asked Andre his thoughts on visits and when he will decide who gets his 5 officials and If Illinois will be one of those schools. Andre said “I will be heading home Friday and discussing that with my family. We are so close, we will talk it over together and come up with what’s best for me. I will have my visits figured out and decide where I wanna use them in late August/September.”
Andre is getting tons more national attention with new offers including from Chris Beard and Texas Tech last week. Illinois is in good position to land an official visit for a couple reasons. Not just because of how special of a bond Orlando Antigua has with Andre but the style of play Brad Underwood uses and the need for a PG with Ayo likely headed to the NBA after his sophomore season and Andres Feliz graduating.
This will be a battle, as are all quality players recruitments. Chris Mack (Louisville) is making a strong push and have attended tons of Curbelo’s games during AAU and LUHI head coach John Buck has a connection with Louisville assistant Dino Gaudio and Mack from their time at Wake Forest. Things will be more clear over the next 6 weeks or so but untill then, Illinois should feel pretty confident with the time and effort they have shown the intelligent playmaker.