ORU’s Abmas enters NBA draft after tourney run

Oral Roberts sophomore Max Abmas is entering the NBA draft, but will maintain his college eligibility and retain the option to return to school, he told ESPN Sunday.

“My plan is to enter the draft and get as much feedback as I can. I’m hoping to work my way into the first round or get some type of guaranteed contract to help me decide whether to stay in.”

Abmas, the No. 30 prospect in the ESPN 100 NBA draft rankings, was named Summit League Player of the Year after leading NCAA’s Division I in scoring at 24.5 points per game as a 19-year old sophomore. Abmas posted 80 points in three NCAA Tournament games against Ohio State, Florida and Arkansas to lead Oral Roberts to the Sweet 16, elevating his standing significantly in the eyes of NBA talent evaluators.

“For me going to Oral Roberts — I’ve seen players like Steph Curry and Damian Lillard who went to mid-majors and showed you can make it from those schools as well. I decided to control what I can control and let the rest play out. It came a whole lot faster than I expected.”

Abmas is intriguing to NBA teams due to his combination of shot-making, quickness, feel for the game, unflappable demeanor and youth. Making nearly four 3-pointers per game while converting 43% of his attempts, Abmas’ ability to pull up off the dribble immediately upon crossing half court made him one of the most entertaining and difficult players to defend in the college game. After playing mostly off the ball as a freshman, Abmas successfully transitioned to the point guard position as a sophomore, showing polished ballhandling ability with outstanding court vision and creativity changing speeds out of pick-and-rolls, drawing some comparisons to Trae Young with his style of play.

Unlike Young, Abmas was lightly recruited coming out of high school, drawing scholarship offers from Army, Navy, Air Force and Marist along with Oral Roberts. Now standing 6 feet in shoes and 165 pounds, Abmas says he’s grown “some inches” since arriving on campus.

“I think people missed on me coming out of high school. Coaches saw me a lot, but all I ever heard about was my size. The whole staff at ORU fell in love with me. It was just about finding the right fit for me. I couldn’t control which schools recruited me. The only thing I could control was my ability to work to improve my weaknesses.”

“Going into the summer after my freshman season I knew we were losing a lot of senior leadership. I wanted to take the next step and move on the ball. For me to play in the NBA I knew that’s something I needed to show. I spent the entire summer working on my ballhandling ability and navigating pick-and-rolls. I’ve always had a feel for the game, but moving on the ball got me more comfortable. The game slowed down for me. Having the freedom I have at Oral Roberts opened up the game for me a whole lot more.”

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