Expectations grow with Max Abmas named preseason second-team all-conference
Two years ago, Max Abmas was a senior who rarely left the court for a Jesuit team that nearly reached the Class 6A state tournament.
Last season, he was the only freshman on the roster at Oral Roberts University, forced to grind for every minute he got.
While many players struggle with that transition at the NCAA Division I level, Abmas found a niche and flourished, becoming one of the top perimeter shooters for the Golden Eagles and earning the trust of his older teammates in the process.
“In college, you’re the new guy on campus, so nothing is given to you. I had to work for everything,” Abmas said. “My goal was to get better every day in practice and do whatever I could to help my team win.”
Abmas wound up as one of only two players to start all 31 games last season for ORU in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was third on the team in scoring at 14.5 points per game and was named to the Summit League postseason All-Newcomer team.
“In college, you’re the new guy on campus, so nothing is given to you. I had to work for everything.”Max Abmas
The key was his ability to hit 3-pointers. Abmas canned 87 of them, or the seventh-most of any player in a single season in school history. He accounted for more than one-third of the entire squad’s output from beyond the arc.
“You have returners who have performed at a high level for years. You’re not going to come in being the No. 1 guy. You have to do little things to separate yourself,” said Abmas, whose major is biomedical chemistry. “My teammates put me in position to take open shots.”
After scoring 14 points in front of a hostile crowd during a season-opening loss to Oklahoma State, his confidence grew. The next game, Abmas made six 3-pointers against Houston Baptist. A week after that, he poured in 25 points on the road against Iowa.
But the highlight for Abmas might have come in ORU’s home finale against Purdue Fort Wayne when he threw an alley-oop pass for a dunk by Emmanuel Nzekwesi in the closing seconds to help seal a thrilling victory.
This year, as Abmas shifts from newcomer to leader, expectations are heightened, too. He was named as a Summit League preseason second-team all-conference selection.
“Last year, I got some good experience, so I know what to expect,” Abmas said. “The goal ultimately is to win a conference championship.”
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