In the months leading up to the 2021-’22 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a series called the ‘BTPowerhouse 25,’ which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.
Today's edition will take a brief look at Andre Curbelo of the Illinois Fighting Illini, who came in tied at No. 14 in the rankings. The Illini are hoping to continue the program’s heights reached last year in what most fans consider a regular season title for the Illini, but the league only counts as a conference tournament title rather than both.
'BTPowerhouse 25' - No. 14 Andre Curbelo:
- Eligibility: Sophomore
- Career Totals: 31 games, 668 minutes, 282 points, 123 rebounds, 123 assists
- 2020-’21 Averages: 21.5 MPG, 9.1 PPG, 4.2 APG, 4.0 RPG, 0.1 BPG, 0.9 SPG
- Positional Role: Point Guard
Illini fans were used to seeing Ayo Dosunmu run the point last season, but got to see Andre Curbelo a fair amount as well in 31 games last season. Curbelo also earned Big Ten All-Freshman honors and was named the Big Ten Sizth Man of the Year last season. Illini fans will certainly be used to him more this season as well as he looks to replace Dosunmu’s departure running the offense.
Curbelo has a lot of attributes that helped Dosunmu excel running the point. He is a shifty gaurd who has elite ball handling skills. He can create his own scoring opportunities, but is also a pass first player that will be complemented well with Kofi Cockburn returning down low in the post and Trent Frazier on the wing.
Curbelo is also a threat to score on the drive. Despite playing point and standing just 6-foot-1, he is also a good rebounder for his size. He has enough skill on defense to cause trouble for opponents as well. Curbelo should be able to use all these attributes to be a quality leader for the Illini this season.
-Areas for Improvement
Despite his defensive capabilities, Curbelo has had tendencies to pick up fouls easily at times. With Dosunmu gone, this will be a huge problem if he cannot reduce that liability this season. He can also lose control at times that result in turnovers on offense as well.
Curbelo also needs to work on his outside shot. He did not take many attempts last season as a freshman in his limited minutes, averaging just 1.0 attempt per game, but he averaged just 16 percent from outside the arc on those attempts. If the Illini are going to remind atop the Big Ten standings this season then they will need him to improve on those numbers.
Curbelo is likely to earn a starting role this season and play heavy minutes. With a more normal offseason and a year under his belt in the league, Curbelo is likely to show a lot of growth as well heading into the season.
Expect him to make some noise for the Illini in terms of production and managing the point position despite Dosunmu’s departure. Opponents caught sleeping on him are likely to pay as a result.
'BTPowerhouse 25' Rankings:
- #26-27 - Players That Just Missed The Cut
- #25 - Moussa Diabate (Michigan)
- #24 - Donta Scott (Maryland)
- #22 - Justice Sueing (Ohio State)
- #22 - Max Christie (Michigan State)
- #20 - Miller Kopp (Indiana)
- #20 - Connor McCaffery (Iowa)
- #19 - Zach Edey (Purdue)
- #18 - Tyson Walker (Michigan State)
- #17 - Eli Brooks (Michigan)
- #16 - Keegan Murray (Iowa)
- #14 - Kyle Young (Ohio State)
- #14 - Andre Curbelo (Illinois)
- #12 - To Be Continued ...