It would be impossible to point to one instance this winter to encompass the wonderment of watching Long Island Lutheran's Andre Curbelo with a basketball in his hands.
That time he dribbled between the legs of a Sierra Canyon player at the Metro Classic — while LeBron James’ son, Bronny, was on his other side trying to trap Curbelo in the backcourt — before making a floater.
There was also his winning shot after dribbling the length of the court, securing the rebound off his own miss and scoring as time expired, in what was ultimately his final basket for Lutheran in a 102-101 victory over Albany Academy.
“These are the types of things you see in movie scripts,” coach John Buck said. “They aren’t what you expect just day in and day out of a player.”
Then there are the countless jaw-dropping moments made in between. Moments when the gym isn’t packed with fans and there’s no one to catch a clip for social media. But even if it’s just a practice, Curbelo still finds a way to make you simply say, "Wow."
Curbelo, a senior from Puerto Rico who will play at Illinois next year, averaged 15.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists a game this year for Long Island Lutheran. But his numbers don’t begin to justify what Curbelo has brought to LuHi and Long Island basketball fans. For this, Curbelo was named Newsday’s Player of the Year for the second straight year.
No one could have known at the time, but with the coronavirus pandemic forcing the cancellation of the state Federation championships, Curbelo’s winning basket against Albany Academy on Feb. 22 ended up being his final shot for Long Island Lutheran.
Buck is convinced — and most likely rightfully so — that Curbelo could have had more amazing moments at Fordham. But, there was some peace in how a kid from Puerto Rico ended his varsity tenure celebrating with Long Island students.
“What I loved the most of all is he just kind of calmly turned, put his hands up and walked into the student section and celebrated,” Buck said. “And to me, that's more telling than the play.”