Curbelo enters transfer portal, leaves Illinois after two seasons


Guard, Andre Curbelo lines up his shot on Mar. 6 against Iowa. Curbelo surprises fans as he makes public his forthcoming transfer from illinois basketball.

By Drew Friberg, Sports Editor

Sophomore guard Andre Curbelo announced his intention to enter the transfer portal after two seasons with the Illini this afternoon on Twitter.

While Curbelo struggled with a head injury that forced him to miss a large chunk of the season this year, he has been a big reason why Illinois men’s basketball transformed from a below-par program to Big Ten regular season co-champions and Big Ten tournament champions in his two seasons here.

Although his departure shocked a lot of Illinois fans, Curbelo’s sophomore season was plagued with injury and misfortune. Curbelo sustained a concussion in late October in an exhibition match against Indiana that saw him miss over two months of the season. When he finally returned from the injury in January, he was never the same Curbelo that captivated Illini fans his freshman year. Averaging just 7.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists this season, Curbelo’s drop-off frustrated many fans.

On top of this, head coach Brad Underwood made the decision to play freshman guards Luke Goode and RJ Melendez over Curbelo in the second half of Illinois’ round of 32 match against Houston, which they would eventually lose 68-53. This added to Curbelo’s already frustrating season and may have influenced his decision to commit to the transfer portal this offseason.

Even with his struggles in the 2021-2022 season, whoever lands Curbelo will be getting a top-tier player. With time to rest and recover from a frustrating year, a breath of fresh air and new scenery may see Curbelo revert back to the freshman guard that averaged 9.1 points, 4.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds and received Big Ten All-Freshman Team honors.

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With Curbelo’s departure imminent and junior center Kofi Cockburn’s future shrouded in uncertainty, there are many questions surrounding this Illinois roster’s future. With fifth-year senior guards Da’Monte Williams and Trent Frazier leaving, graduate student guard Alfonso Plummer leaving, Curbelo leaving and Kofi potentially leaving as well, Illinois will be sporting an entirely new look next season. Only time will tell if Curbelo’s decision was the correct one.

Curbelo’s full statement can be found here: