Abrams, Randle Meshing Well With Wolves

Fighting Illini basketball coaches have two commitments in the fold for 2011, and they are continuing to work on several outstanding players to round out that class. Commitment Tracy Abrams has recently moved to the Illinois Wolves AAU team and is working closely with prospect Chasson Randle. Together, they have helped the Wolves win three championships this month.

Illinois coach Bruce Weber has been recruiting combo guard Chasson Randle for a long time. The Rock Island product is in no hurry to choose a college, but he does look favorably on the Illini. Weber is hoping the chemistry he is forming with Illini commit and point guard Tracy Abrams will give Randle extra incentive to consider the Illini.

Illinois Wolves AAU coach Mike Mullins has worked with Randle for a couple years. He is pleased with how well Abrams has meshed with his other players since joining the team this spring.

"Tracy's been a pleasant addition to the program. He's a very self-motivated kid and a hard worker. He's very selfless, and he's bought into the things that we try to emphasize. That's made his transition very seamless with us. It's been very pleasant so far."

Mullins emphasizes a team game, unlike a number of AAU programs. And he works with his players to improve their games. Abrams is fast and athletic and can change games with the force of his personality, his quick hands on defense and his transition game. He is working with Mullins on improving his outside shot.

"He's played very well the last couple of weekends. We do a lot of work on it (outside shot), and he's getting more comfortable. I think he's got good mechanics, and we hope we're helping him improve his shot selection. That alone makes you a better shooter immediately when you recognize what a good shot is.

"There are guys in college that don't know what a good shot is, and we're trying to emphasize that for all our players right now. It's not how many shots you take, it's how many you make."

Abrams has sometimes forced passes in the past that backfire. Mullins is working with him on that also.

"We've had the good fortune of having a lot of good point guards come through the program, and we really emphasize eliminating turnovers with good decision-making. Things that can hurt you when you go on to the next level.

"We reinforce it in practice and during our games. One of our main teaching points for point guard is recognizing what a good pass is in different situations. Who to throw it to when and where. We try to get them to think about it so it will become second nature so they won't have to think about it anymore but just do it. When they're willing to listen, it goes pretty well."

Randle was named MVP of the 17U AAU teams at the Nike Showdown in Merrillville, Indiana, last weekend. He continues to work hard every day.

"I think he's bigger and stronger than he was last summer, and that's helped him tremendously. Chasson's a guy whose goal is not to have any weaknesses. Chasson doesn't have many off nights, or any back to back.

"He's really extended his range and has become a real threat shooting the ball. He's an excellent shooter, and he's improved his ball handling. With his body bigger, he has the ability to rebound the ball and finish in traffic. Chasson's really improved."

One knock on Randle is his hesitancy to take over games. But he took over last weekend when needed, and Mullins says he did that last summer for the Wolves.

"He took over most of July for us last year. I've seen it. Chasson is willing to do whatever it takes for his team to win. Not many people are capable of dominating a game in many statistical categories. Chasson can lead his team in any category on any given night. That includes rebounding, assists, scoring and steals.

"He's very versatile, and he's very much a student of the game. He realizes there are different things, different matchups and different opponents that can help him on a given night.

"He takes a lot of pride in his defense, which for a kid that will score 2000 points in high school is rather unusual. He realizes at our level there are nights he will have to lock somebody up."

Abrams and Randle mesh well together as both prefer winning over individualized play.

"They're both just terrific young men, and there's not a selfish bone in either one's body. They care about winning first. Great players enjoy playing with other great players. You don't see any of them get worried about it. It's a lot of fun to coach them both at the same time."

Weber hopes to find that out for himself.

Illini Inquirer Top Stories