Illinois signee Tracy Abrams has a difficult task in his final season with Chicago Mt. Carmel. He is their go-to scorer, and yet he is now required to involve his teammates more and sacrifice individual scoring for the team. Making that assignment doubly difficult is the fact his team lacks overall size and experience. There is a big drop off in overall productivity after Abrams.
Mt. Carmel coach Mike Flaherty discussed Abrams's predicament after a narrow win over Gary Bowman at the Shootout At The Hall at the University of Illinois Assembly Hall December 11, 2010.
"Last year he was probably jacking up a lot of shots. This year, even though toward the end of the game I was asking him to go get the ball and not let somebody else decide whether we win or lose it, he's made unbelievable progress in terms of sacrificing his game for the team.
"I keep telling him, as good as he is, he can't be satisfied. There's so much farther he can go. We're such a young team. We have to count on him, not just for his basketball ability but his leadership skills and ability to bring people together. We have high expectations for him."
Abrams enjoyed his opportunity to play on the Assembly Hall floor, his future home court. It wasn't his first time.
"It's a great experience for me and my team. It's a chance to get used to the court and playing on it, for me as well as my team. We played summer league here, and we played in last year's tournament."
Abrams frequently played off the ball in previous years because his team had several smaller guards. He was asked the hard part about making the transition to point guard.
"Just being on the ball a lot. When to run, what to do in some situations, how to get the ball to the hot person. It's not tough, and I'm really getting used to it.
I'm trying not to score a lot because I know next year I'm gonna have to be a point guard and get my team involved. So that's my main focus right now. Doing what I can do to help the team."
He tries to learn from McCamey.
"Demetri McCamey motivates me from a point guard perspective. The most important thing is the point guard, and that's what I'm gonna have to do when I'm here."
Abrams has a diverse game. The 6'-0" guard has range to the three point line and the quickness to penetrate and finish at the rim. He can dunk with ease. He is at his best in close games when he is needed most.
He prides himself on defense. Gary Bowman's best player is 6'-5" warrior DeJuan Marrero, and Abrams did a good job of shutting him down when asked.
"Coach came up to me and told me to guard him, so I did what I can do. I know I'm a good defender."
Abrams struggled last year, both during his high school season and the summer AAU circuit, due to recurring ankle sprains. He is less effective without his quickness, but that appears to be returning. The youngster says he is all the way back, but Flaherty doesn't agree.
"To be honest, I don't think he's fully recovered. I don't see the explosion he had the first couple years. He might argue that point, but I've seen him when he's at full speed. I think he's still a little bit behind where he was."
Assuming he can get his full range of motion back, he will be an important cog in a recruiting class composed of five excellent ball players. He is looking forward to four years with a group that includes Mike Shaw, Mycheal Henry, Nnanna Egwu and Devin Langford.
"That's great. If we all work hard and play together, the sky's the limit for us."
He knows what is expected of him as a college freshman.
"Get players involved and bring energy."