Good Morning, Illini Nation: First real run for Niccolo Moretti

Aug. 27—Welcome to "Good Morning, Illini Nation," your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He'll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood's team:

Niccolo Moretti's midseason arrival at Illinois meant spending seven months playing exclusively against his new Illini teammates. The Italian point guard's first real run against somebody else? This month's trip to Spain, where he averaged 4.3 points, three assists and 2.7 rebounds while shooting 45 percent from the field and making 2 of 4 three-pointers.

Moretti's 8:5 assist-to-turnover ratio was also notable. Mostly for the two games where he had four assists apiece while turning it over just three total times.

"Nico's very, very gifted on the offensive end," Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. "The ball moves with him. He's an elite passer, and he's elite in pick-and-rolls. He had some great spurts with Amani (Hansberry) in particular. Amani is a terrific screener and has an uncanny ability to get out of them and has very good hands. Nico made threes — made a couple when they were there and open.

"He's got to continue to work defensively and grow on that end. Had some unknown about him going in and felt great coming out in terms of his playing."