Illini guard Andre Curbelo enters transfer portal

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Illini sophomore guard Andre Curbelo entered the transfer portal on Monday, as first reported by Verbal Commits and confirmed to 247Sports’ Travis Branham.

Curbelo confirmed the news on his social media pages.

Curbelo sat the entire second half of Illinois’ loss to Houston in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday. illini head coach Brad Underwood called it a “coach’s decision”, but he did not go into any further detail.

“Illini Nation … where do I begin? Thee past two years have been insane,” Curbelo wrote on his social media page. “So many amazing moments and some hard times that we had to battle through. I am so thankful I could be a part of this program. Without my teammates and staff, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish the all of that things that I did personally & that WE did collectively. I’m thankful I was a part of two amazing teams here at The University of Illinois & for the relationships I have made. I’m thankful for all the support from The Orange Krush, you all were my energy and the reason I never stopped pushing. Unfortunately, my time here at the UIUC has come to an end & I have decided to enter the transfer portal. Belo OUT.”

It was a tumultuous sophomore season for Curbelo, who was picked as a preseason All-American by various outlets heading into the year. However, he suffered a concussion during Illinois’ exhibition game against St. Francis in late October and lingering effects caused him to miss nearly two months of the season.

Curbelo returned to action on Jan. 17 against Purdue and he dazzled with a season-high 20 points in a double overtime defeat. A week later, Curbelo was out again after testing positive for COVID-19.

The 6-foot-1 point guard was able to play the final 13 games of the season, but he never found consistency with his game. Curbelo finished the year averaging 7.5 points, 3.2 assists and 2.8 turnovers per game, while shooting below 33 percent from the field. In postseason play, he went just 2-for-18 from the field combined with nine assists and nine turnovers in games against Indiana, Chattanooga and Houston.

Following Sunday’s loss to Houston, Curbelo posted a tweet that seemed to give an indication that he’d be back with the Illini.

“What a year a lot of up and down moments but we still standing 10 toes down time to reflect!!! Coming back stronger than ever… didn’t go the way we wanted but we fought through a lot of adversity. Love my brothers for life,” Curbelo wrote.

Now, Curbelo is part of a major turnover in the Illinois backcourt with Trent Frazier, Alfonso Plummer and Da’Monte Williams moving on as well.

What it means: The Illini will have a new-look guard group heading into next season. Underwood is set to bring in top-100 signs Jayden Epps and Sencire Harris. Illinois is also pushing hard for five-star Kentucky decommit skyy clark, who is the No. 5 point guard in 2022 class according to the 247Composite. That would make for a very talented backcourt trio, but a very young one. With Curbelo’s exit, the Illini will surely seek out a starting-caliber transfer point guard with experience. They’re also interested in adding a big, two-way guard via the portal. illini guard Brandin Podziemsky will have an opportunity to earn a role as well.

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