Illini Signees Adam Miller & Andre Curbelo Among ESPN's 2020 Top 50

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois head coach Brad Underwood has already said it will “be fun to watch” signees Adam Miller and Andre Curbelo play off each other when they get to campus.

ESPN clearly agrees.

The final 2020 recruiting rankings were released Wednesday morning with the Illini guard duo finding themselves among the top 50 players in the class. Miller, who signed with Illini on April 22 shortly after being named the Mr. Basketball in the state of Illinois, was ranked at No. 27. This top 30 ranking is the highest for an Illinois signee in a decade since Waukegan native Jereme Richmond came in at No. 23 in the 2010 recruiting class under then-head coach Bruce Weber.

Miller became the first Illinois Mr. Basketball selection to sign with the Illini since Mark Smith did so in 2017 but Smith would transfer to Missouri after his first and only season with the Illini program. Miller becomes just the third selection this decade to sign with Illinois joining Smith and Richmond. Miller is the first Mr. Basketball from a Chicago high school to sign with Illinois since Jarrod Gee in 1994.

Miller, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard visited Illinois several times and had scholarship offers from Arizona, Louisville, Arizona State and Kansas. Miller is from the same Chicago high school program (Morgan Park) and Mac Irvin Fire AAU program as Illini guard Ayo Dosunmu. Miller was teammates with Dosunmu for one season at Morgan Park as the guard duo helped lead the Mustangs to a Class 3A state title in 2018.

Curbelo, who came in on the ESPN.com list at No. 41, is the future at the point guard position for the Illini. The Puerto Rico native, who Illinois lists at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, played his high school basketball in the Long Island district of New York and verbally committed to the Illini program on Nov. 1. - Illinois head coach Brad Underwood

“I think there’s a lot of excitement from my standpoint about the thought of those two developing an unbelievable chemistry with each other in the backcourt,” Underwood said last week in a Zoom video media conference. “They both played in a tournament together in South Carolina and Curbelo’s team was very good and I think he got the MVP of the tournament. Those two developed and forged a relationship there so that’s exciting.”

While at Long Island Lutheran High School, Curbelo led his team to the 2019 New York State Federation Tournament of Champions Class AA title and this season defeated the highly touted Sierra Canyon (Calif.) High School team led by Lebron James’ son in a national television matchup.

“I think he is, without question, the best passing guard in the country,” Underwood said in November when Curbelo signed with Illinois. “It’s unfair because he’s a high school kid but I’ve compared him to Steve Nash.”

Curbelo and Miller became the sixth and seventh player rated with four stars to sign with Illinois since Underwood was announced as the Illini’s head coach in March 18, 2017. They’ll now be the future and possibly the present of what looks like a very promising Illini backcourt.

“That’s going to be fun to watch," Underwood said last week in a Zoom meeting. "You’re talking about two guys who have the ability to make others around them really, really good. They’re both very good passers. They’re both capable scorers at a high level.”

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