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Illini freshman duo ready to contribute on the court this season

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Illini basketball practice Andre Curbelo
Illini basketball practice Adam Miller
Illini basketball practice Adam Miller

CHAMPAIGN (HOI) -- The 2020-21 Illinois men's basketball schedule hasn't been released yet, but they will be taking the court before the end of November.

Featuring a roster chalked full of talent, including a loaded backcourt. Junior star Ayo Dosunmu is the household name, but they also have senior guards Trent Frazier and former Peoria Manual standout Da'Monte Williams.

The next wave of talent comes in the form of freshman guards Andre Curbelo and Peoria native Adam Miller.

"I think me and him are going to play a big role on the team this year even though we're freshmen. Coming in I think everyone is going to have their eyes on Dos and Kofi and all those other guys that I think me and him could do really big things for the program," said Curbelo, a four-star recruit from Puerto Rico.

The two will likely be linked together for however long they stay in Champaign. They're from the same recruiting class, they're both guards, they live together, and their individual success will probably depend on the other.

"He lives up to the hype, everything they say about him is true. He comes to practice, he works hard, one of the first ones up in the morning. As freshman I feel like we've gotta set ourselves apart and help each other doing that," said Miller, a four-star recruit who played at Morgan Park. "His passing game is just as they say it is, he knows how to pass the ball, he makes great reads, his jump shot is improving, and he's getting stronger."

For Miller, he feels like he's starting to put things together at the right time, with the season less than three weeks away.

"Now I feel like it's all coming together, today was a big day for me and I felt really good today, I had a really good day yesterday. Just combining good days back-to-back-to-back is the biggest piece for me. Getting in the system, learning it and just being Adam Miller in the system is the big thing for me," explained Miller.

Curbelo says having a deep backcourt only helps them improve as young players.

"I'm literally exhausted after every practice, just having to guard pro's. Ayo's a pro, Trent's gonna be a pro, all of those guys are pro's. I think it's always a good test to guard Ayo, or, or Trent, or Adam, or Da'Monte, whoever it is. I think it's a great challenge and I'm going to continue to work as hard as I can to be as ready as possible for our first game," continued Curbelo.

Just two years ago, the Illini posted a 12-21 record, before flipping the script and going 21-10 this past season. Bringing in talented young players will help Brad Underwood's team stay near the top and continue building his culture.

"We're building something here, you know we've got the pieces, we've got everything we need. We got pieces at the one, the two, the guards, the wings, the bigs. So all we gotta do is work hard and out-tough everybody every night and we're gonna do what we gotta do. The ball might not go in every possession, but I promise we're gonna work hard," said Miller.

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Holden Krusemark

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