Illinois Basketball has received some devastating news. TCR learned late Monday night that senior Tracy Abrams suffered a torn ACL during a workout and is expected to miss the entire upcoming season. The Chicago-Mount Carmel product has been Illinois' starting Point Guard for the past three seasons. Abrams is expected to redshirt--which would grant him an extra year of eligibility for the 2015-16 season.
"Tracy worked hard in the offseason to put himself in great position heading into his senior year, so he's obviously disappointed and we are for him as well," Head Coach John Groce said. "But Tracy personifies toughness; he has the heart of a champion and I know that he will only come back stronger from this experience when he returns to the court next year. In the meantime, he will continue to play a vital role for our program with his leadership."
It'll be impossible to replace Abrams' experience and leadership, but the Illini are somewhat equipped to handle an injury at this position. Senior transfer Ahmad Starks will most likely replace Abrams in the starting lineup. Starks is Oregon State's all-time leader in 3-point field goals (185). During his junior season at OSU he started 27 of 32 games and averaged 10.4 points, 2.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game.
Sophomore Jaylon Tate will also be relied upon to help replace Abrams. During his freshman year, the Chicago-Simeon product played in 33 games, while averaging 2 assists and 1.8 points per game. There was speculation that Tate may use a redshirt this upcoming season, but that seems to be out of the question now.
Another option for the team is junior transfer Aaron Cosby. The former Seton Hall standout is a Shooting Guard by trade, but he should be able to handle some of the Point Guard responsibilities if need be. Cosby started 27 of 31 games for the Pirates during his sophomore season and he averaged 12.6 points per game.
Will the returning core of Nnanna Egwu, Rayvonte Rice, Kendrick Nunn, and Malcolm Hill be enough to carry the Illini this season? Only time will tell. What we do know, however, is that John Groce's teams are tough. This group will find a way to power through any and all adversity--you can count on that.