Illinois has a very bright future with Tracy Abrams running the show and Nnanna Egwu swatting shots in the paint. They were teammates with the Illinois Wolves and will once again team up in Champaign. The following is my scouting report on the two Illlini signees from their matchup in the final regular season game of the year.
Nnanna Egwu, 6'-9", center (St. Ignatius High School – Illinois)
This was one of the most impressive performances I have seen from Egwu. With this big man, it all starts on the defensive end of the floor. His shot blocking is exceptional. He has great timing and anticipation, does not fall for pump fakes and stays on the ground until the shot is released. Egwu positions himself well on defense and is a tough post defender.
He moves well laterally and should be able to guard both centers and power forwards at the next level. The future Illini center got in a few passing lanes for some steals by using his anticipation. Rebounding the ball comes naturally to the big man with his quickness and length as major contributors to this statistic.
Offensively, the senior has improved leaps and bounds over the span of his career. When I first saw him he was extremely raw on the offensive end and was playing off pure athleticism. It is remarkable the skill level improvement in just a few years.
It begins with excellent footwork on his post moves. He fights hard on the interior for post position and more times than not gets good deep position, But many times early in this game, his teammates did not feed him the ball when he was in position.
An aspect he has added to his game over the last year is a developing jump shot. He will post up away from the basket, do a quick spin move to face the hoop, square up, and shoot a nice form jumper. It has good mechanics and a soft touch.
Out of the post, Egwu demonstrated his passing abilities against Mt. Carmel. When doubled, he looks over the defenders and finds the open shooter for the a three. He did this multiple times for assists.
Egwu always runs the floor hard and consistently beats his opponent down the floor. This is a good way to get easy points, especially late in games.
Late in the game, he was hit in the nose and left for a short period of time. He came back to knock down four clutch free throws in overtime to help his team get a huge win by two points.
Egwu's stat line was 24 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks, 4 assists, and 3 steals. For those who say this big man will be redshirting next year, they are sorely mistaken. He will be able to come in and back up Meyers Leonard and provide energy and a defensive presence for the Illini next season.
Tracy Abrams, 6'-1", point guard (Mt. Carmel High School – Illinois)
Abrams was hot from the perimeter in this game. When given the smallest opening, he can drain an open three point shot. He did this several times against St. Ignatius defenders. His shot's range has continued to extend over the course of his career, and he is now a legit scoring threat from behind the arc.
The senior guard possesses a strong and stocky body that allows him to be a power guard. He has learned how to use this to his advantage. Abrams gets into the lane at will with slick ball handling and quickness. His power allows him to finish in the lane against big men. He absorbs contact well and has the ability to get the ball up for and-1 opportunities.
I was impressed with Abrams's ability to run the pick and roll. He runs his man hard into the screener and makes good decisions of whether to shoot the jumper, attack the hoop or hit the open man.
His passing ability and point guard skills are continuing to develop. At Illinois, he will be looked at as the man to get the array of wing scorers involved rather than looking to score for himself first.
On the defensive end, Abrams plays strong and is a tough on-ball defender. His leadership will be one of the key assets he brings to Illinois. He has demonstrated at the high school level he is a true leader. I believe his ability to motivate teammates and will his team to victory will be something the coaching staff will allow him to do from day one.
Abrams posted 20 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound, and 1 block on Senior Night at Mt. Carmel. He will look to lead his team deep into the state tournament before heading off to Champaign fall of 2011.