Player Spotlight: Illinois G Tracy Abrams
The Fighting Illini are struggling, losers of their last eight conference games, and find themselves at the bottom of the Big Ten Conference due to Penn State’s recent surge.
Illinois has not won a game since January 4, against the Nittany Lions, where they dominated the matchup, winning by 20 points. Junior point guard Tracy Abrams was one of the keys to the Illini’s success in the game and he will need to show up big again for Illinois to leave the Bryce Jordan Center victorious.
Abrams was the main facilitator for Illinois that night with five assists to go along with his 12 points. His athleticism was on display and caused problems for Pat Chambers’ squad.
The junior guard has had a solid season to this point, scoring double-digits in six of Illinois’ nine conference games on the year. His 3.1 assists per game is good for best on his team, but he has been unable to dish out the rock as successfully lately, averaging only two assists per game over his last five games.
Abrams has been a vocal leader throughout his career at Illinois, and head coach John Groce has entrusted Abrams as the captain of his team.
Despite the output of Rayvonte Rice this season, Abrams is still the guy the Illini turn to when the team is in distress, and he is considered to be a fierce competitor.
Abrams is a Chicago native, and played his high school ball at Mt. Carmel, where he excelled on the hardwood. He averaged 17.7 points and 4.6 assists per game as a senior and was considered a consensus top-100 recruit.
Abrams was selected as a first-team All-State selection by the Chicago-Sun Times, as well as Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.
Abrams arrived in Champaign, in 2011 as a freshman and made an immediate impact. He played in all 32 of the Fighting Illini’s games and started 19 times. He was selected as the team Most Valuable Player at the end of the year.
As a sophomore, Abrams started in 32 out of 36 games and was third on the team in scoring, averaging 10.6 points per game. He was ninth in the Big Ten in assists and steals, and helped Illinois earn an invitation to the NCAA Tournament.
Abrams’ numbers have gone down this year in many areas, specifically field goal percentage and assists per game. Transfer Rayvonte Rice has become the most consistent player on the Fighting Illini squad and Illinois fans have grown frustrated with Abrams lack of production at times.
However, the junior guard has the capability to take control of a game and the Nittany Lions need to be weary of Abrams potential to steal the show.
If the Illini hope to end this dreadful losing streak at Penn State, on Sunday, they will need Abrams to step up and return to early season form. Rice will be unable to win the game on his own.
Penn State and Illinois tip off at 4:15 p.m. on Sunday, February, 9. Tune into ComRadio for live coverage.
Andy Madore is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Courtesy: (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)