Curtis Blair III 6’5 185 2023 Steward School, Richmond VA
Curtis may be the most exciting prospect in Virginia’s 2023 class; he is certainly gifted with the physical tools, advanced skills, and a natural feel that adds to the intrigue. Part of that intrigue includes his DNA as Curtis is the son of former Richmond Spiders great Curtis Blair, Jr who was a two time All-Colonial Athletic Conference first-team selection and earned CAA Player of the Year honors in 1992. A 2nd round pick of the Houston Rockets, Blair never played in a regular-season NBA game but did enjoy a brief professional career in Australia, Austria, and Turkey before beginning his officiating career in 2000. Currently in his 12th season in the NBA, he is regarded as one of the league’s top officials. Curtis III has the opportunity to tap into his Dad’s knowledge and experience as a result of his Dad’s playing career but also because he is an assistant basketball coach at the Steward School when not officiating NBA games. Curtis III’s physical assets start with good length at 6’5 and still growing, he has grown two inches in a year and wears a size 16 shoe! Curtis III has a strong, durable frame and fluid athleticism. He demonstrates sound footwork both around the rim and on the perimeter and is able to leverage his size, mobility and versatile skill set to contribute in a variety of ways on both ends of the floor. Curtis has a great feel and a mature court presence. His vision is outstanding as is his decision-making skills and he is a very good passer, intelligent. He shows great poise and picks his spots nicely as to when he should look to score and when to distribute the basketball.
Curtis has had several double-figure scoring games but playing with a group of talented, veteran guards and one of the nation’s top big men in Efton Reid he also realizes he doesn’t have to force anything and gets many of his shots within the flow of the offense. Curtis moves instinctively off the ball to get open. He sets and uses screens nicely and demonstrates sound footwork and shot preparation. He has sound and effortless shot mechanics complete with a high release, fluidity. His release is quick and he elevated nicely. Curtis uses quick tips and powerful, rangy strides attacking space. He can endure contact and finish at the rim at a good rate showing great body control, some creativity on finishes and a great touch using the glass around the rim. Curtis is probably most dangerous pulling up off the dribble where his middle game is high level! He can drive hard in either direction and suddenly plant and elevate into the jumper and is seemingly automatic shooting off dribble pull-ups again demonstrating repeatable, fluid mechanics and a deft shooting touch. He’s also a very good passer on the move and uses dump-off passes off the shot which you rarely see young players do. Curtis has excellent range on the jumper and good consistency beyond the arc on catch and shoot jumpers. He attacks hard closeouts nicely either with long strides and a good burst or using shot fakes preceding a dribble or move. Active on the glass on both ends of the floor he is agile and quick reading the ball off the glass. Curtis gets off the floor nicely, doesn’t take long to gather and also elevates quickly on his second jump and subsequent jumps as he battled to secure rebounds. Very good timing for rebounds and is active on the offensive end getting stick backs. Curtis does a good job as an on-ball defender. Uses good lateral mobility, length, and strength to stifle dribble penetration. He shows good instincts and anticipation in passing lanes.
Again his great feel serves him well off the ball. Curtis shows great poise but also has some dog in him, a toughness in competition that contrasts an otherwise unassuming demeanor. There is plenty to be excited about in this freshman as college coaches are discovering and interest continues to mount. Curtis was offered by Liberty University last June to begin what no doubt will be a lengthy offers list before he would eventually have to make that decision.