Liberty will welcome Curtis Blair to the men’s basketball roster for the 2023-24 season as he will arrive on campus this summer. The 6’6″ Blair is one of two signees that will join the Flames this coming season, joining 7’0″ big man Kai Yu from China.
Blair, from Richmond, Virginia, helped lead Steward to a 21-8 season this past year. They advanced to the VISAA Division II semifinals before falling to top-seeded Highland. Blair scored 14 points in the season-ending loss, scoring nine during a dominant third quarter in which he took over the game at times.
Blair was named the Tidewater Conference Player of the Year for a second straight season after averaging 21.9 points per game. The three-star recruit according to both 247Sports and Rivals, Blair is the No. 6-ranked player in PrepHoops Virginia’s 2023 class and the No. 8-ranked player in Virginia in 2023 according to 247 Sports. Blair helped lead Steward to a 28-3 record last season, falling to Blue Ridge in the VISAA Division 2 state tournament semifinal.
During his junior season at Steward, Blair averaged 17.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Blair’s dad is currently an NBA official who is originally from Roanoke, Virginia. The elder Blair played his college basketball at Richmond where he was named CAA Player of the Year in 1992 before being selected in the second round by the Houston Rockets in the 1992 NBA Draft.
Blair should be able to immediately add to Liberty’s depth at guard and on the wing to help ease the loss of three-time reigning ASUN Player of the Year Darius McGhee. Blair can add some length at the position and can help supplement Isiah Warfield and Joseph Venzant’s defensive games.
Kai Yu is a 7’0″, 240-pound big man who hails from Shanghai, China. He currently plays for Link Year Prep in Branson, Missouri, competing a post-grad year this past season in the United States. He also has the ability to stretch the floor with his ability to shoot the ball from behind the arc.
He graduated from high school in China a year ago, completing a post-grad year at Link Prep before heading to Liberty this coming summer. Kai played with the NBA Global Academy and could also end up playing for the Chinese National Team. A professional basketball, the Shanghai Sharks, have also had discussions with Yu joining their team in China. Ultimately, Yu has elected to play college basketball at Liberty.
Depending on how Liberty’s roster ends up looking next season, Yu could redshirt to allow him the opportunity to continue to adjust to living in a new country while also beginning his collegiate career. If Blake Preston returns for his COVID-year, the Flames will have plenty of depth at forward including Preston, Shiloh Robinson, Zach Cleveland, Bryson Spell, and Ben Southerland. Kyle Rode could even play in the post in smaller lineups as we saw at times this season.