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Alabama Women's Basketball Has Proven Product in Senior Guard Megan Abrams

After reaching the Women's NCAA Tournament for the first time in over two decades, the Crimson Tide returns at least one player who's confident she has what it takes to lead Alabama this season.

“She made me a better coach. Let me put it to you like that.”

That’d be the theme, the theme draped in praise first by Errol Rogers.

Rogers coached Megan Abrams at Lafayette Christian in Louisiana, that is before she chose to play point guard for Alabama and coach Kristy Curry.

And before Curry witnessed daily what Rogers referred to. 

But the women’s basketball coach gets it now, and she’s offered plenty more praise of the now-Crimson Tide player. To any half-piqued ear, too, which goes on four years.

"It’s so important for coaches to have an extension of who we are when we’re not around and even when we are, and she truly is that. It’s just her work. She puts in the work," Curry said.

It’s different from seasons past for Alabama, though, last at least. Abrams is a senior, and with that comes responsibilities layered in leadership for a Bama bunch that’s not quite as long in the tooth as its spring departures.

The Tide’s three leading scorers last season are gone, including Jasmine Walker who was the seventh overall pick of the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2021 WNBA Draft.

Some would sense some stiff-new-ball-glove to this year’s team, sure, but there’s inherent potential in that, particularly with Abrams’ proactivity and ability to gauge the pulse of others.

"She’s all about the front of her jersey, not the back, and that’s in all areas of the program," Curry said. "Whether it’s community service, whether it’s involvement on campus, whether it’s the weight room, it’s just amazing."

As for on-court impact, the senior point guard is the top-scoring returner after averaging 8.1 points per game as a junior. 

She's started the last 69 games in a row for the Crimson Tide, too, while ranking second on the team in assists and steals. But more is expected of her this season. 

"I’ve played behind WNBA-caliber talent, so taking that and implementing that, my leadership and individual development, I think that alone will take us where we need to be," Abrams said. "We want to get past the second round in the [NCAA] Tournament, and it’s up to each of us individually as well as collectively."

To further illustrate a team-driven ethos, Abrams was selected to the SEC Women’s Basketball Leadership Council for 2021-22, this after being named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll two consecutive years and interning at Nike during summer break.

In being a part of conference-wide discussions, there's opportunities for input and growth and, for the senior point guard, a chance to be as involved as ever as a representative of the Capstone.

"We’re making sure, as student-athletes, that we all feel represented and comfortable and in a safe space at our universities. We’re also talking about ways to make the SEC Tournament better," Abrams said. "It was definitely an amazing experience, and I’m excited for the SEC to take ideas from what we said and put them into action."

You’d think rarely does someone transform quickly into a conscientious student and athlete, and you’d be right, since student-athlete can be disproportionate.  

It doesn't happen often, really, the classroom-to-court success, but she’s not almost-anomalous in that regard.

To some of the people who know Abrams best, like her high school basketball coach, they know her as “Meg.” Subsequent to and as a mean of the two, upbringing and athletic development, her success has permeated through various avenues of which she's steered thus far.  

"Her parents always supported her 100 percent because they knew they had something special in their daughter," Rogers said. "And there was always the thought, I knew she was going to be a very good basketball player."

About that, the family dynamic.

Four of Abrams' relatives are former Division I athletes, two basketball players and two volleyball players, which lent to her knowing not only what to expect upon arriving to Alabama but knowing what it requires to even reach that point.

"They guided me and told me I had to come in and work hard, and they told me what you do in high school doesn’t matter anymore once you get to college," she said.

Abrams helped lead the Lafayette Knights to state championship titles in back-to-back seasons, 2016-17 and 2017-18, as a junior then senior high school standout. 

But it was her senior season, a few months before graduating to college basketball and more than as many months after winning a state championship in track & field in the high jump, that left the head coach near-speechless at such evident competitiveness on the floor.

"Her senior year she hurt her ankle in the state semifinals, and it was bad. Most kids wouldn’t have been able to play in the state championship. She wasn’t 100 percent, but she played her butt off," Rogers said. "And she reminds me of the guy who played football for Alabama last year [Jaylen Waddle] that had surgery and came back to play in the national championship."

As a three-time All-State selection and a two-time state champion at the prep basketball level, Abrams was a 2018 McDonald's All-American nominee, as well as an Adidas All-American.

But that was high school and nothing like the college game.

She knew nothing of entitlement, particularly with the influence of high-level athletes as relatives. One of the best backcourt prospects in the country, there were plenty of interested schools, so why Alabama, a program that, as of then, hadn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 1999?

"It’s another home away from home," Abrams said. "Coming out of high school, I had never been out of Louisiana for a long period of time, and coach Curry, I could feel that trust from her immediately from the time she started recruiting me."

“And there’s just no better place to be than Tuscaloosa.”

Similar thoughts were reciprocated from coach-to-player, as the eight-year coach of the Crimson Tide women's program thinks a lot of her ability as a leader, player and ambassador of the university. 

The thing is, though, for Curry to offer such praise doesn't come easily. 

Before arriving to Alabama in 2013, Curry led, among others, the Texas Tech and Purdue programs with successes at each. But it was as the Boilermakers head coach that she developed Erika Valek, point guard and 2004 winner of the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as the nation's top player under 5-foot-8 inches tall.

Yet in some regards, Abrams, standing an inch taller, is the best lead guard she's coached.

"I knew that her basketball IQ was going to be good, but it was really great. It’s as good of a basketball IQ as I’ve coached," Curry said. "You look at her three-point percentage and it went from 18 percent to 35, and two days ago she’s 7-for-10 and you’re just going, 'Wow.'"

You'll talk to successful people, though, in any industry, field or sport, and they seem too modest for their achievements, but that's not it. It's that it wasn't scripted any other way, of course by themselves.

And whether it's as a campus and program leader, an on-court presence as the senior point guard, or back in high school under Rogers' direction as a play-through-injury player with a state championship on the line, Abrams has proven to everyone in her corner what she's made of.

Then again, though, maybe that's why so many people have swayed to her side of the ring. 

The Crimson Tide soon opens preseason practice as it breaks in new faces for new roles this season, Abrams is eyeing another appearance to the NCAA Tournament after Alabama broke its 22-year drought last spring.

"Taking what I know and helping the new players, helping them understand the intensity of the SEC and the high level we need to play at, is what I’ve been focusing on and that starts in practice," she said. "We’re playing physically with each other and, ultimately, that’s going to help us in the end."

"And come November, we will have beat up on each other enough to be ready for our opponents.”