Andre Curbelo has entered the transfer portal. I am not surprised, but I am a little sad. He had one of the best freshman seasons last year and one of the worst sophomore seasons this year. Perhaps, as everyone seems to say, a fresh start would do wonders for him and the Fighting Illini Men’s Basketball program.

Robert Rosenthal, writing at IlliniBoard, has a few thoughts. I’d like to share what I think is the most important part.

…Remember the player he helped up during the first exhibition game when his teammates left him hanging? Remember that one tweet from a TV reporter near the court (can’t remember which game) who reported that an official went to Curbelo (who was in street clothes) and asked him do you understand your role (on the bench)?” This is all part of the Andre Curbelo experience. He observes a reporter typing without looking and interrupts and NCAA press conference to talk about it. He observes someone reaching out to block a free throw and takes his complaint directly to the officials.

Personally, I love it. He’s so incredibly unique. Put all the basketball aside - I very much enjoy people who see the world through a different lens. The way he sees the court is the way he sees the world.

Unfortunately, I think it was very difficult to see through that lens after everything that happened this season. Last year’s confidence in March became this year’s uneasiness. Whatever the lasting effects were - and remember, he was cleared from the concussion and played three games before it was determined that something wasn’t right and he was shut down for 55 days so it wasn’t he got a concussion and sat for two months” - he was never really back to Belo. The mental and the physical never got back in sync.

I hope he gets back to being himself. Post-concussion, the only glimmer was the Purdue game, and I think that took a toll on him physically and mentally. I am sorry to see him go. I’m not sure the player we got at the end of his freshman year was ever returning. He was unique, but I’m not sure he has the right mindset to overcome his deficiencies, which was a red flag.

You can be a six-foot point guard in college if you are getting a ton of assists, running the offense, not making turnovers, and going 110% on the defensive end. Curbelo was a smart defensive player and could occasionally make passes others could not, but his numbers were not good this year, and he was obviously hurting all year.

I want Illinois basketball to get taller, more athletic, have a higher basketball IQ, and be less prone to mistakes.

Good luck, Dre. I hope you turn it around.

March 29, 2022