Tracy Abrams surprised everyone when he chose Illinois shortly after the start of his sophomore year in high school. After starring in the Illinois state championship playoffs as a freshman, most figured he would be a national recruit. But he knew what he wanted and ended his recruitment early. Signing Day Wednesday November 10th can't get here fast enough for him.
"It's been a couple years. I'm excited to get it done. I'm looking forward to it."
Not all players benefit from making an early decision, but Abrams did.
"It helped me. I was just able to focus on my game. I knew it was the right place for me."
He joins a class that includes Nnanna Egwu, Mycheal Henry and Mike Shaw, with one more possible. Abrams said when he committed that Shaw was a good friend, and he would put the Illinois bug in his ear. Shaw went through a tortuous recruiting process before finally committing to Illinois recently.
"I was excited. I could believe it, but I was pretty excited. Two years back, we said we were gonna go to the same school. But I had committed and knew what I was doing. But he ended up going to the same school as mine anyway."
This class should be ranked in the top 10 in the country. Abrams realizes that with a top ranking comes responsibility.
"It's a great class. I'm excited to play with those guys. It makes me feel good. But at the same time, we realize we're gonna have to work as a team to get better. People say a lot of things, but we need to stay focused and get better as a team as well as individuals."
That sounds like a future leader speaking. Mature beyond his years, Abrams sees a parallel with the present Illini team, which had tough games with two Division II exhibition opponents recently.
"Yeah, nobody likes that. You've got a target on your back. Everybody wants to come and beat you no matter how good you are. So you have to have the attitude they have."
At one time, Abrams was ranked as the number one player in the state and among the elite nationally. Unfortunately, a series of ankle injuries set him back his junior year at Chicago Mt. Carmel and throughout the AAU season. Hopefully those days are now behind him.
"My ankle is getting great now. I can't even describe how it is, but it's 100%. My doctor told me that I needed to strengthen it or it would continue to tweak."
Abrams is forced to play a wing for Mt. Carmel due to the small size of his team.
"We'll be pretty good. We have a lot of pretty tough guards. We'll be scrappy and small. We've just got to grind it out."
Some have felt he would not be an ideal point guard due to a lack of experience and training at the position. To correct that situation, Abrams joined Mike Mullins and the Illinois Wolves AAU program last spring and summer. When healthy enough to contribute, Abrams played the point.
"The Wolves was the best situation for me. Coach Mullins helped me out as a player from a point guard's view of the game, and the whole game period."
Abrams has tremendous quickness and explosiveness. He can penetrate and finish, and he can hit the three. He can fill the passing lanes for steals. And he can take over a game with his scoring when needed.
He is ready for the challenge of replacing Demetri McCamey with the Illini next year.
"It just seems like I'm a college point guard already. Coach Mullins told me I'm a college point guard playing high school basketball, and that I should dominate and get better. I'm real motivated to do that."