Get to know 2024 Northwestern commit Angelo Ciaravino, the breakout star of the summer for the Illinois Wolves who is poised for a massive senior year at Mt. Carmel (IL). Ciaravino is a 6’5” guard/wing who stood out early for his athleticism and defense, and grew into a primary option on the Under Armour circuit over the summer, showcasing a polished dribble-pass-shoot skill set that took his game, and recruitment, to another level, finalizing the summer by staying in-state and committing to Northwestern University.
In this interview with Pro Insight’s Alex Brown, Angelo discusses his journey through basketball, his family background, committing to Northwestern, gaining confidence, his standout summer with the Illinois Wolves, the desire to give back, and much more.
For the latest installment of the Pro Insight Q&A Series, we present 2024 prospect Angelo Ciaravino:
Pro Insight: Describe your basketball journey thus far. How did you get to this point and what were some of the steps along the way?
Angelo Ciaravino: So I am Angelo Ciaravino, class of 2024, and I'd say my basketball journey is I grew up playing since I could pick up a basketball. My dad was an ex-division one basketball player, he played at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, so he had my older brother and I in the gym at a young age just getting familiar with it and everything. He didn't force it on us at all — we played many different sports like soccer, football, whatever it was, we played everything. Basketball definitely grew on both of us, but I'd say I really started taking it seriously freshman year. So going into high school I dropped baseball which I was playing as well as basketball, and just really just got hungry for it and wanted to keep playing as long as I could, and that's when I kind of knew that I wanted to play at the next level and that I knew I could play in college. So I mean, the journey has been unreal, my dad and my mom, my whole family, they've been along with me throughout the whole journey just keeping me in the gym, whatever is needed, and I'd say I'd probably thank my dad for where I'm at right now. I mean, he's just been unreal with training me and just working me out, and yeah. Right now I'm committed to Northwestern, and I'd say he's a very big part of it.
PI: Absolutely, it is great that you have those types of influences in your life. What has been some of the best advice your father has shared with you thus far?
AC: Definitely, he's definitely given me a lot, just my confidence. I can't pick out a specific thing he said, but we had a lot of different talks about just playing with confidence, and this summer is really when it showed that I was just confident in everything I did, whether it was my shot, driving to the basket, everything like that. So, we have a lot of different talks, but I'd say the main one was just him talking about my confidence and just him trying to build it up for me and just getting me to where I need to be at, and it helped a lot and it showed.
PI: When did you feel you began loving basketball?
AC: I mean, freshman year is when I dropped everything else and started just focusing on basketball, but I'd really say I loved it sophomore year because I feel like that's when I really took it to another level and started realizing that I really could do this and play basketball in college. I mean, I really just fell in love with it when I was really young, and I've never not had a basketball in my hands, like I was always playing basketball. But, I feel like sophomore year is when I really started taking it serious and really knew that I could have this for the long term and play in college.
PI: And now you are committed to Northwestern, congratulations! What went into that decision to commit to the Wildcats and Coach Collins?
AC: Yeah so, obviously my parents and I took a visit out there, 40-minute drive which was awesome, and I mean we were scheduled for more visits but on the visit, just everything about it, they're very welcoming the first day we came, we had breakfast with them, I mean we felt very, very welcome with them and like we knew them for our whole lives. They are very, very welcoming, and the whole team, we met them and same thing with that, same thing with the whole staff. Also what played a role in this was kind of being close to home, but being kind of far. It’s not very close to home where my parents are checking in on me 24/7 and I'm right here next to the house, so I mean I didn't really think about that going into it but once I'm on campus and they're selling that, I just thought about it a little more and it's like, this is perfect. It's just the perfect opportunity to play in the Big Ten. Great education to set me up for life after basketball, and being close to home on top of it all.
PI: Academics were a part of the decision as you mentioned, why was that important to you?
AC: So obviously, the ball is going to stop bouncing one day. I mean, I would like to play for as long as I can, but it is going to stop bouncing one day. You're going to want to have stuff that you could turn back on and resources and connections that you could turn back on just to get a job and find something other than basketball that you could do. I think that Northwestern has a plan for me after basketball, and a plan for everyone involved with the program whether it's football or baseball or volleyball or whatever it is, and there's a plan set in place to where you meet all these different people and meet your classmates and they're just bound to be someone big so you just have those connections. On top of it, it's just yourself, you just have a great education there.
PI: So when the ball does stop bouncing, what would you want to do? Have you thought about that at all?
AC: I haven’t thought about it a lot, but I would say I would want to stay with basketball, whatever it is, I don't care what it is, but I want to stay here as long as I can. So if it's announcing, broadcasting, whatever it is, I would want to do it.
PI: A basketball lifer then?
AC: Yeah, yeah.
PI: If you had a message for Northwestern fans, coaches, and future teammates, what would that be?
AC: You're going to get my all out of me, and I'm coming in to work as hard as I can everyday. I'm ready to win, I'm ready to win — whatever it is, I'm ready to win.
PI: Let's transition to some on-court talk. What are some strengths of yours and what are some areas you are looking to improve upon?
AC: Yeah, so for my strengths I’d say my athleticism, I'm very athletic around the rim, and my IQ. I'm very smart and I'm able to read a lot of different things on the court and make the right read. For some things that I'm looking to work on, my shot has improved a lot, credit to my dad, we've been in the gym working a lot on it. But, I'd like it to be more consistent than it is, so my three-point shot and my ball handling, I'd like to handle it a little better.
PI: You know, this summer it really seemed like you were more of that dribble-pass-shoot type of wing that can act as a ball handler.
PI: It felt like, after watching you for a while, that the shot was really the main difference, and you were able to unlock your athleticism a bit more in downhill situations
PI: What did you change in the shot that really just made it click? You kind of went and became an elite shooter over the entire summer.
AC: It just comes down to myself wanting it, and being tired of when I get these write-ups or people talk about me, they just talk about me being athletic and me dunking, and I mean I wanted to be more than that. I know I wasn't there to where people were talking about that, so my dad, I mean, I brought it up so much just about being in the gym with me, and he was. He was a shooter, my brother’s a shooter, so I'm in the gym with them all the time and I'm surrounded by shooters. So we tweaked some things, worked very hard on it and just got reps on reps, and eventually it just came down to the confidence of just shooting it. It's just getting a lot better, so I am very proud, but there is still a lot more work to do.
PI: We’ve got to give you a ton of credit on that. So, let’s talk about this summer with the Illinois Wolves, as it felt like you really turned a corner during AAU play, and were playing with a ton of confidence. What was a difference in your mentality, outside of confidence, that played a factor in your breakout summer?
AC: I'd say I've had a lot of talks with Coach Mullins and it just comes down to who's willing to step up, and I felt like I was one of the guys that needed to step up for us to win games. I have great teammates, credit to them, and every one of them are great guys, great players, but I feel like I really needed to step my game up for us to win, and I need to score a certain amount for us to win and get a certain amount of assists and a certain amount of steals. I mean, I was just going out there and playing my hardest, I wasn't focused on anything else other than just winning the game and playing my hardest.
PI: How would you describe your relationship with the Illinois Wolves program and Coach Mullins, and how has that played a role in your success?
AC: I came in 15U, so I've been here for three years, and I was introduced by my high school basketball coach to Coach Mullins — he has a relationship with him — and I'd say it was a whole different side of basketball than I've ever seen, and it was a lot of sacrifice and a lot of hard work for me to be able to keep playing with them and keep making the team every year. I mean, it comes down to just loving the game, I mean we had two practices a day — Saturday and Sunday — since my 15U year, which I'd say it was a lot. It was every weekend for however long it was, but I mean kids are coming from all over. It was a 90-minute drive, sometimes. But, this whole experience has definitely prepared me for college. I'd say it's probably harder than most college practices, but I mean it really sets us up, and you can see it in the way we play, the way we interact with each other, we're a very close team. Coach Mullins has been by our side since 15U, and with all of his connections, and everyone he knows, you want to be in this program since 15U, just for that. I can't thank him enough for everything he's done for us, putting us all on the biggest platform every weekend, and just that experience ever since 15U has been amazing. All the travel, all the meals, it's amazing.
PI: So let's transition to some off-court stuff. If you were to describe your personality in a few words, what would those words be?
AC: Man. I’d say, definitely goofy. Let's see…energetic…and let's say, kind.
PI: Would you describe yourself as more of an introvert or an extrovert?
AC: I’d say extrovert.
PI: You like being around people?
AC: Yeahhh, I do.
PI: What inspires you?
AC: I would probably say…definitely some of my family members have been through a lot dealing with different diseases like cancer. My grandma, she's going through it a little bit right now, and she's perfectly fine right now, but just seeing them go through that and all that fight that it takes, it's like what am I going to complain about? Like what am I complaining about? I'm complaining about nothing compared to what they're not complaining about. So, I mean just seeing them get through different stuff like that, and it's just if there's nothing to complain about, just keep going, keep pushing your hardest. I try to make them proud every day. I try to make my family proud every day. They keep me going.
PI: So who are some of your heroes?
AC: I'd say my parents, my parents and my grandparents. Definitely them, just looking up to everything they do, everything they do for me throughout the years. It's just crazy to think about all the money they put into me and my siblings, all the sacrifices they make just taking us to practice or anywhere anytime we need it, just willing to drop everything for us. It's great to see, just giving me a good role model to look up to, and just setting me up for the long run for when that day comes when I have kids, and just giving me someone to look up to.
PI: What is something most people do not know about you?
AC: I love to cook. I like to cook, when I'm not lazy. I mean I'll get up in the morning and cook up some eggs and bacon, or I cook with my Grandma sometimes, some pasta and meatballs. But I love to cook some weird stuff sometimes, just putting stuff together, but I like to cook and I like to eat.
PI: Do you have any other interests outside of basketball?
AC: Yeah I like to golf, my dad kind of introduced it to me. We got into it a lot this summer, so we had a little trip out to Florida and we golfed a lot out there. I am actually golfing tomorrow, early morning which is why I couldn’t do this [interview] tomorrow [laughs].
PI: What’s the best you’ve shot?
AC: [Laughs] I am not that good, I am not that good, I don't really keep track like that, we’re playing 18 and it's like…I don't even finish sometimes. I don’t really keep track, but it can’t be that good.
PI: Great game to develop mental toughness, though.
PI: Do you have any books, movies, TV shows you are watching?
AC: I mean not really, I used to watch a lot of TV shows and movies during that COVID time, Stranger Things was one of my favorites, 13 Reasons Why, I really liked that one. But I can’t really remember a lot of them, I binged a lot of them during COVID.
PI: If you could change one aspect of yourself, in basketball or life, what would that be?
AC: I'll give you two — so I'd probably like to put more pounds on without doing anything, so if I could change that I could, put some more weight on my body. I'd also probably say always stay confident and never lose that confidence.
PI: If you could have a dream NIL deal or sponsorship outside of a shoe brand, what would that be?
AC: Dang… outside of a shoe brand… Ooh, I really Cane’s. I really like Cane’s Chicken. So I have to say Cane’s or Dave’s Hot Chicken.
PI: At the end of the day, what would you hope to be remembered for?
AC: I would say something that I could be remembered for would be just giving back. Obviously just playing basketball and getting a name for myself in basketball, and then just giving back to the community and making a positive impact, whether it's making a school or just giving back in a different way to people who aren't as fortunate as I am.
PI: What motivates you to do that?
AC: Just seeing people that are less fortunate and just understanding that it's not always their fault, and sometimes they're born into it and can't do anything to help themselves. It's just very sad to see, and I feel for everyone like that. I’ll do anything I can to just help a little bit.