The 2014-15 season didn’t turn out the way the Illinois Fighting Illini had hoped at the start of the season. When the dust settled, the Illini had a 19 – 14 record overall, and a mediocre T-7th place in the Big Ten standings.
Amidst injuries and a few rough patches of play during Big Ten play, one that included a “one-and-done” showing in the Big Ten tournament at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines, the Illini earned a 3-seed in the NIT. Illinois was throttled by Alabama in the first round, 79 – 58, ending their up-and-down season.
One player for the Illini who had a dismal year of his own was point guard Tracy Abrams. Abrams was slated to be the team’s starting point guard in 2014-15, but suffered a torn ACL in the off-season that forced him to miss the entire year.
After 10 months of fighting to come back stronger than ever, Abrams was again slated to be the starter in 2015-16.
As things unfolded, history would repeat itself, and not in a good way. At practice, in preparation for Illinois’ summer trip to Europe in August, Abrams tore his Achilles tendon and will miss the entire 2015-16 season.
Two heartbreaks in two seasons for the native of Chicago, IL, who was projected to be the leader of the back court for Illinois both years before his season-ending injuries.
Back in 2013-14, the 6’2” Abrams averaged 10.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists for the Illini. With the loss of Abrams in the back court, John Groce will likely turn to either Jaylon Tate or incoming freshman forward DJ Williams to fill the void.
The loss of Abrams will likely also hinder the Illini’s chances in the Big Ten this season. Losing a player of Abrams’ caliber is tough to overcome, as the basketball world saw in 2014-15 when Illinois had to play without their point guard.
No news has been released yet as to whether or not Abrams will be granted a fifth-year of eligibility in 2016-17. With the injury happening before the season even started, it’s hard not to see the NCAA granting Abrams a medical hardship.