Max Abmas, armed with a fresh body and a few tricks he learned from an NBA All-Star, returned to Oral Roberts University last week with high expectations for the upcoming season.
As he did in 2021, the leading point guard dropped his name from the NBA draft hours before the June 1 deadline. He returned to his hometown, Rockwall, Texas.
“I had time to go home, to relax, to spend time with my family,” Abmas said, “and then to continue training, to improve as well.”
University point guard Oral Roberts had already had a busy offseason. Since deciding to enter the draft process for the second year in a row, his professional basketball journey has taken him through different cities. He prepared for the draft with NBA coach Phil Beckner in Phoenix after the spring semester and played in the invitation-only G-League Combine May 16-17 in Chicago.
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“Just looking at the risk-reward, talking to my family, you know, the high could have been really good. The low could have been bad,” Abmas told Tulsa World. “(I) just wanted to come back and get out at the top and put a little more buzz behind my name.”
ORU coach Paul Mills, who coached Abmas through both hikes in the NBA draft process — and ORU’s 2021 Cinderella Sweet Sixteen run that propelled Abmas into national recognition — wanted that his 21-year-old star player is resting once he returns to Rockwall.
“I spoke to the coach (Mills) on deadline night … and he’s just like, you know, ‘go home, relax and regroup,'” Abmas said. “So the next morning we came home and were able to relax for a few days.”
After playing 31 games last year, Abmas was struggling with nagging injuries and pain.
“I had a bone bruise on my toe, I sprained my thumb earlier in the year,” Abmas said. “I had some time to relax and these came back 100%.
“And then I was back on it.”
The second half of Abmas’ summer break was no less eventful than the first.
Earlier this month, Abmas spent a week in Las Vegas working on his personal game with former NBA All-Star and former Sooner Trae Young. RJ Fuqua, former ORU guard and son of Golden Eagles legend Richard Fuqua, is a mutual friend of Young and Abmas and has helped facilitate practices.
“We found a week that worked for both of us, and so, I absolutely had to make it happen,” Abmas said. “Just seeing the little things that take (Young) success to the next level, the floaties…how to use your hands…to see him in person and see how he does it was really huge.”
Abmas also spent six weeks in Tulsa connecting with his new teammates on the court.
“We had (Conner) Vanover from Arkansas, Patrick (Mwamba) from UTA and then Demari (Williams, transfer from Arizona State),” Abmas said, “and we had the new recruit , Cam (Amboree) So it was really good to be around the guys, kind of building that new chemistry.
“I think we will be very good this year. I think we will be deep,” Abmas said. “I think we’ve added some very important things to improve, so I’m really looking forward to this season.”