BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR | MOUNT CARMEL'S TRACY ABRAMS

Mount Carmel's Tracy Abrams wants his legacy to be about more than basketball

2011-03-31T17:00:00Z 2011-04-02T04:55:08Z Mount Carmel's Tracy Abrams wants his legacy to be about more than basketballBy Ken Karrson kenneth.karrson@nwi.com, (219) 933-3232 nwitimes.com

One day in the near future, college basketball fans will likely be watching Tracy Abrams running Illinois' offense as its point guard and admiring his on-court skills.

Certainly, that was the opinion the Mount Carmel faithful formed of Abrams during his four-year varsity stint with Caravan. Count coach Mike Flaherty among his admirers, especially because Abrams helped Carmel garner 89 victories since his arrival at the school.

Flaherty's wife, Laura, has a fondness for Abrams as well, but not only for the obvious reasons.

"She's a good judge of character," Flaherty said, "and she's said a number of times, 'I just really, really like Tracy. He's a good kid.'"

And when asked how he'd prefer to be remembered by Caravan fans years from now, Abrams, the Times Player of the Year for 2010-11, sided with Laura Flaherty.

"I'd like to be known as a hard-working, humble kid," he said. "You already know what to expect from yourself, but I think that's the most important qualities in a person and a basketball player."

Some may think such characteristics don't really matter in one's athletic development, that the ability to shoot, dribble and pass effectively is all a basketball player needs to excel. But in Abrams' case, that humility and his sense of selflessness were at the root of a highly successful 2010-11 Caravan season.

With sidekick Adonis Filer having transferred to Bishop Noll in Hammond after the 2009-10 campaign, Abrams became Carmel's one known commodity. Under such circumstances, it would have been somewhat understandable if Abrams had sought to showcase himself and simply written the Caravan off as too inexperienced and untested to be a threat to the better foes on their schedule.

But that was never how he viewed it.

"With (Filer) leaving, it made the team less better, so I had to find ways to make the other players better," Abrams said. "I had to get those guys some hope.

"Everybody was standing around and watching me (early in the season). I had to let them know what their roles were. I feel like I helped a lot (in that regard)."

The result was a 21-win season that featured both Catholic League and regional titles for Carmel. However, things didn't unfold without a few wrinkles.

Ten games into their schedule, the Caravan's record stood at just 6-4, and in Mike Flaherty's mind, his star was still doing most of the heavy lifting.

"We were well under .500 in the summer (without Abrams), and he didn't have a lot of confidence in his teammates (at first)," the coach said. "He had to do more in the areas of rebounding and defense, but I told him, 'You're trying to do too much. You need to get your teammates more involved and use the fact that everybody's defense is focused on you to get these other guys open shots.'"

Soon after Flaherty's speech, that started happening, and Carmel got on a roll. Junior Alex Austin took the biggest step forward as he became an all-area player and a suitable complement to his more famous teammate.

"Alex was kind of taking Filer's spot, so I was trying to get that kid the ball," Abrams said. "I told him to work on his ball handling, get stronger and play more aggressive, and after the season he said, 'Thanks for making me a better player.'"

When the Caravan were operating at peak efficiency, the scoring column would be filled with at least three -- and usually more -- double-digit producers. And Abrams wasn't always the high-point man, which never bruised his ego.

"I have a great attitude and don't get too cocky," he said. "When you get cocky, you're not real."

But there was never any mistaking Abrams' importance to Carmel.

"The biggest thing for me was that he was on the varsity for four years, and Mount Carmel won 89 games," Flaherty said. "And it was really three different (types of) teams.

"A lot of guys who are big-time Division I recruits wouldn't be willing to do what we asked of him, but he's always been about winning. All the time I've been coaching, I've had maybe two or three kids who absolutely hated to lose, and he's one of them. Whatever it is, he doesn't take losing real well."

Thanks to his team-first attitude, Abrams never had to get used to it, either.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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