When reflecting back on the 2019-2020 Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball season and the sadness that comes from its abrupt, no-postseason ending, Andres Feliz is a player you can’t help but feel some heartbreak for. Far from a consolation prize, Andres Feliz will be back on the court competing with some former Illini on the House of ‘Paign roster in The Basketball Tournament.
ALERT : Illinois alumni team House of 'Paign (@IlliniTBT) signs Andres Feliz for TBT 2020!— TBT (@thetournament) May 12, 2020
The graduating senior helped lead the program to its best season since 2013, averaging 11 pts and 5 reb per game. pic.twitter.com/IKWJcKvKbn
A former 3-star recruit in 2016 who played his high school ball in Orlando, Florida — Feliz committed to the nearby USF Bulls — a team whose head coach at that time was current Illini assistant coach Orlando Antigua. Shortly after, Feliz decommitted from USF and landed at JUCO school Northwest Florida State College, where he would play for two seasons before joining the Division I ranks with the Illinois Fighting Illini — again choosing to play for Antigua.
This past season, Feliz was Illinois’ third-leading scorer behind Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn, and in quite a few ways, outplayed teammate Trent Frazier and was more consistent on a game-to-game basis.
Andres Feliz completed his collegiate eligibility in Champaign, averaging 9.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 76 percent from the free throw line in 24.5 minutes per game. Feliz was a standout ball handler capable of playing great defense and making hustle plays when his team needed them the most.
Need evidence of the kind of scrappy hustle plays Feliz is capable of making? Look no further than the game-winning play he had against Indiana. It was one of the highlights of the entire season:
When games are close, these are the types of plays that make all of the difference.
Not your typical point guard: A rebounding menace
In his second and final season at Illinois, Feliz averaged 5.0 rebounds per game. He was the team’s second-leading rebounder behind Kofi Cockburn. Feliz had at least ten rebounds on three separate occasions in the 2019-2020 season: versus Nicholls State in the season opener, at Arizona and at Ohio State. His relentless effort on the glass was something Illini fans were marveling at all season long, and it is a skill that will be key to ‘House of Paign’s success this summer.
As far as role-playing guards go, Feliz is the total package. He’s not an elite scorer by any stretch, but he can play some solid, in-your-face defense while making the right play on offense. His ability to finish at the rim and through traffic was among the best in the entire Big Ten.
Feliz always puts the team ahead of individual glory, and he should pair nicely next to the more high-volume, outside shooting and scoring threat that is Rayvonte Rice. Their skillsets complement one another well, and from a sheer toughness standpoint, those two guards will be a significant challenge for opponents to overcome.