Connect with us


How Niccolò Moretti Can Help Illinois Basketball



How Niccolò Moretti Can Help Illinois Basketball
Instagram: @niccolomoretti_

How Niccolò Moretti Can Help Illinois Basketball

The international route and the “project” prospects have not come to full fruition for Illinois Basketball. Players like Brandon Lieb, Jermaine Hamlin and Matic Vesel never worked out despite the former having multiple years in the program. The international route has not shown much dividend. Though Zacharie Perrin has shown he is a talented prospect on the FIBA circuit, he left the program after maybe 6 weeks in the program. Not only that, he consistently likes tweets bashing Brad Underwood and Illinois. Niccolò Moretti is arguably the only scholarship player that files under a “project” on this roster.

The Italian point guard is crafty and talented, however some of the walk-ons have a bigger build than the 6 foot 1, 160 pound youngster. Moretti, however, has a skillset that no one else has on this roster. With no true point guard on the team, Moretti has a chance to contribute this year.

Running offense

I think one of the limiting factors in both Coleman Hawkins and Terrence Shannon Jr’s games is the fact that they are relied to create offense. Hawkins has struggled with being offensively aggressive, largely due to the fact that he was counted on to initiate offense. Sometimes, this mucks up the game for the talented forward. Terrence Shannon also struggles in the half-court. He has the explosion, however he will either take a shot from three or force his way left to the basket. They need someone that can take the pressure off.

Though Ty Rodgers is projected as the starting point guard, it is not his forte. Not that assists tell everything, but Rodgers had a total of 8 assists during the team’s overseas tour. Rodgers played a total of 57 minutes. Moretti played a total of 51 minutes and had 10 total assists. Though we have not seen this against legit competition, Moretti theoretically provides more spacing as he hit a few 3’s.

The Downside

Of course, there are serious concerns about Nico Moretti playing large minutes. All of it lies on the defensive side. Not only is he small in stature, Moretti seems to lack adequate foot speed to stay in front of more athletic guards. I mean, imagine the big guards like Malaki Branham, Jett Howard, and Brice Sensabaugh who have completely terrorized Illinois Basketball. Moretti does not seem to be ready to defend that kind of player. He has probably improved, however he looks like he needs more time physically.

However, I am curious to see if Brad Underwood gives him a shot early in the season. I said this previously, but if Moretti can give what Te’Jon Lucas gave, Illinois basketball can benefit from that. He has exceptional court vision and seems to have a great feel of the game. Count me as a pessimist towards Ty Rodgers running the point guard spot full time, but Moretti seems like a more natural fit. It is just a question of if he is ready physically.

Image: Instagram: @niccolomoretti_

Alex is the Owner of, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is also the lead content creator and lead editor of all articles on Armchair Illini. He has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS Sports and more.