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Illinois Basketball 2018-19 Player Review: Andres Feliz

The JUCO transfer evolved to become an important contributor off the bench.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

By the Numbers

Feliz was a 6-foot-2, 185-pound junior from Guachupita, Dominican Republic. He completed high school at West Oaks Academy in Florida. Feliz then went on to play junior college basketball at Northwest Florida State where, as a sophomore, he averaged 20 points, 6.1 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game while shooting 61.1 percent from the field and 41.8 percent from three-point range.

His numbers this past season in Champaign weren’t nearly as gaudy as his junior college numbers, but Feliz improved throughout the season as he became accustomed to the physical nature of playing in the Big Ten.

As a junior, Feliz averaged 8.3 points per game on 45 percent shooting. He also shot 27 percent from behind-the-arc. Feliz turned in a few assists a game averaging 2.2 per game.

Impact on the Illini

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Feliz turned into the Illini’s key sixth man and the primary backup to starting point guards Trent Frazier and Ayo Dosunmu. He is an aggressive guard with a stocky frame that likes to take the ball to the basket.

Against Big Ten competition, this backfired early as he found the paint to clogged with players more athletic than he faced in junior college. However, as the season progressed, Feliz became more effective going to the basket.

His increased confidence manifested itself late in the win at Ohio State, when Feliz got two key layups to seal the game, and in Champaign against Northwestern when his aggressiveness led to him shooting 17 free throws.

Feliz’s Best Game

In Illinois’ 81-76 victory over Northwestern, Andres Feliz scored 26 points. Most impressive, however, was his 16-of-17 from the charity stripe that included key free throws late in the game to seal the win for the Illini. Feliz’s late-game poise was instrumental in helping the Illini get over a late-season slump and get a victory over the Wildcats.

In the above highlight, you see Feliz at his best. He’s slashing to hole in traffic yet he remains composed and in control as he scores.

In order for the Illini to take the next step of getting to the NCAA tournament, Feliz has to more consistently show what he showed against Northwestern.

The Quick and Dirty

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Assuming that Ayo stays in school, Feliz’s role with the Illini in 2019-20 is already defined. He will be the first one off the bench and he will spell Ayo when necessary.

If Feliz can increase his points-per-game average into the low to mid-teens, then he can give the Illini a highly effective third guard option. When combined with the expected improvement of Ayo and Trent Frazier, any improvement by Feliz will give the Illini a lethal combination of guards and maybe the most lethal backcourt the Illini have had since Luther Head, Deron Williams and Dee Brown.

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