“Control what you can control,” is what he tells himself throughout the day. “What am I going to do differently to separate myself from others,” is what he asks himself every day. “Use your God-given abilities for God-given reasons,” is what his coach has instilled in him every practice.
Max Abmas is a sophomore at Oral Roberts University and has made sports history.
He emerged as the nation’s top scorer, averaging 24.5 points per game. He became the first player since Davidson’s Stephen Curry (2008) to score 25 or more points in his first three NCAA Tournament games. He was named Summit League Player of the Year. This is just a peek into what 20-year-old Max Abmas has been able to accomplish in just his sophomore year of college.
Oral Roberts University is the home to this rising basketball star. From the classroom to the court, Abmas puts in the work to be better every day. From the time he was in kindergarten, Abmas has always had a basketball in hand. As a young kid, he would play pickup games with his older brother and friends. His coach, Kevin Butler, pushed him to be better and better while playing in the Amateur Athletic Union through elementary. Abmas attended Jesuit College Preparatory School during his high school years where he experienced what it would look like juggling a student-athlete lifestyle.
“It definitely was tough and having the workload was hard, but my high school really prepared me well starting in ninth grade. High school gave me that foundation and made college feel like it was something I have already done,” said Abmas.
When choosing to play at a Division 1 college out of high school, Abmas received only four scholarship offers: Air Force, Army, Navy, and, of course, Oral Roberts University. From day one, the coaches believed in him, and he has felt their support. He wanted to join ORU to help put them back on the map and make an impact here.
“I wasn’t highly recruited, overlooked in a sense, the process was out of my control, but I trusted in God’s plan,” said Abmas.
Stepping into his first game as a college athlete at ORU was surreal for Abmas. He knew this was his goal and he was not finished yet.
Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry and Trey Young were just a few players Abmas grew up watching, and they inspired him to continue to pursue the sport, but Ambas clearly wanted to be none other than himself.
“Ultimately for me, I don’t say I want to be like anybody else, but it’s being the best version of myself I can be by taking things from other guys and adding it to my game,” explained Abmas.
These past few weeks have been a life-changing experience. Beginning March 9th at the Summit League Championship, ORU won 75-72, securing a seat in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008.
“As kids, it’s what you dream of to play in March Madness,” said Abmas.
Round one came, against the Golden Eagles, number 15-seed, were set to play, number 2-seed, Ohio State. Most people tuned in would have placed their money on Ohio State, but not the guys sitting in the ORU locker room.
“Everybody doubted us, but the 15 guys and coaching staff in the locker room believed, and that’s all you need when walking into a game like that,” explained Abmas.
After winning in a huge upset, Abmas expressed how crazy it was. Across the nation, people were calling ORU a Cinderella story. People all around the world started rooting for the Golden Eagles. They were the underdogs but proved that they were a force to be reckoned with. After defeating Ohio State, ORU was the nation’s talk after 5.1 million perfect brackets were demolished with this unforeseen upset.
The turnaround was fast for the Florida Gators. Winning against them would secure a seat in the Sweet Sixteen. After a close game, ORU came out on top with a three-point win, 81-to-78, at the last buzzer. ORU had secured a seat in the Sweet Sixteen, and Abmas expressed how humbling the opportunity was for them. He was honored to represent ORU and help put them back on the map.
After a hard-fought game against Arkansas, in the third round ORU came up just one shot short to move on to the elite eight. Abmas said that none of this would have been possible without God.
He walked into March Madness as the underdog, as no real threat to other teams. The 6’1 and 165lb sophomore guard was just honored to show his face at the tournament. He had no idea how much publicity he would receive in just a few short weeks. He started with 1,000 followers on Instagram and left with 18,000 followers. ESPN, Sports Nations and other popular sports media platforms are praising the young man’s athletic ability and have confidence they’ll be hearing his name in the near future.
As for Abmas, he dreams of one day playing in the NBA after graduating from his college career. Abmas concluded with an encouragement to readers and fans to be the best version of themselves.
“Don’t listen to outside critics. What you can control is your work ethic, so control what you can control,” concluded Abmas.