Chicago Mt. Carmel junior Tracy Abrams is a dynamic, explosive talent when healthy. Unfortunately, Illinois fans didn't see him at his best in the recent Shootout At The Hall December 12 as was not yet fully recovered from a severe ankle sprain. Still, the Illini commitment showed a range of skills.
Mt. Carmel coach Mike Flaherty commented on his star's ankle after the game.
"He had it in a cast for three or four weeks. He came back ahead of what we wanted. Him on one and a half legs is better than most.
"He said he's about 80%, I'd say he's about 70-75%. A lot of those guys wouldn't be able to stay in front of him, but he just doesn't have that step. Once the ankle gets back to 100%, he'll be very difficult for people to guard at the high school level."
It was obvious from the start that he was favoring one leg. He wasn't able to penetrate as well as normal, so he showed off a different part of his game instead. To his coach's delight, he hit three straight threes.
"He's working really hard at his outside shot, and that's really improved," Flaherty bragged.
According to Flaherty, the early college commitment didn't make Abrams complacent. If anything, it made him work even harder.
"You can tell everything about him is working hard and making the team better. When you have someone with that kind of attitude it's pretty easy to keep him motivated."
Playing in front of his future fans was extra motivation.
"It felt real good," Abrams acknowledged. "It gave me motivation to go out and play hard, show that I'm a good guard and get my teammates the ball. I feel like I'm in a family at Illinois, and everyone comes out and is supportive."
He is working on all aspects of his game.
"I'm working on getting my whole team to play hard so we can win games. I'm working on my ball handling, shooting, and passing plus getting everyone involved. I have to work on my lateral movement and my defense."
Whenever anyone tries to compliment him, the 6'-1" Abrams shows humility by talking about hard work. For example, being labeled the face of Mt. Carmel basketball.
"It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I'm working hard, but I have to keep working hard to be the player I have the potential to be."
Abrams knows he will be in good company when he finally enrolls at Illinois. Other top players are joining him in what should be some of the school's best teams.
"I'm very excited. It motivates me to work hard so that I'll be put in a good position when I get here so we can win games and try to advance to the Final Four."