Albert Einstein High School boys' basketball senior Abraham Camara used to be a lanky 6-foot-5 center. A raw, talented big man, or as teammate Joe Bradshaw described him, “some skinny frail guy.”
But that all changed last year, after he temporarily left the team and missed out on Einstein's late-season run to focus on his academics.
Thanks to the extended offseason, which allowed for extra time in the weight room, Camara has transformed into one of the most dominant big men in the county.
“He became a dedicated high school athlete,” Einstein coach Rich Porac said. “That, beyond anything else I've seen, has been the biggest improvement.”
Camara bulked up in the offseason and also played on the football team this fall. “You can see the difference,” Porac said. In just his third year playing organized basketball, the senior is averaging 18 points, 15.8 rebounds and 4.1 blocks per game (as of Monday), dominating inside on both ends of the floor.
“He's way more aggressive. He feels like he has to prove a point in the county,” Bradshaw said.
The Titans rarely call plays for Camara, who leads the team in scoring and shoots about 60 percent from the field. The center inflicts most of his damage in the paint, collecting errant field goal attempts and turning them into easy buckets.
“Sometimes, our best play is a bad shot when Abraham is under the basket,” Porac said.
Camara has been playing his best basketball as of late. He had 40 points and 18 rebounds in a 72-56 win over Seneca Valley on Jan. 31. The week before, he recorded 37 points and 20 rebounds in a win over Walter Johnson.
“The thing with him, he doesn't need us to pass the ball,” Bradshaw said. “If the ball comes off the rim, that's just his.”
Camara began his sophomore year on the junior varsity team, but moved up to varsity after a rim-breaking two-handed dunk caught the attention of his coaches. Adjusting to the varsity level was a struggle, he said.
“It was really difficult for me,” he said. “... There were obviously guys better than me, bigger than me. I needed time to learn the game of basketball.”
Slowly but surely Camara has done exactly that, overcoming obstacles like the ones he faced his junior season.
“I started taking my grades seriously, hitting the weight room, trying to get better,” Camara said.
Even though he didn't play at the end of last season, Camara attended all of Einstein's games. After a 2-10 start, the Titans won nine of their last 13 before falling to Urbana in the 3A West Region semifinal.
“It really upset me,” Camara said. “Seeing the looks on my teammates' faces when they lost to Urbana, I knew I had to step up.”
Camara has added several elements to his game this season, including an improved left hand. He's also become more versatile. In a game two weeks ago, he grabbed a rebound and took it coast-to-coast, as if he were a guard, Porac said.
With only three years of serious basketball experience, there is plenty of room for growth.
“I think there's a little more time to add more stuff to my game,” Camara said. “I just need to put the work in.”
Camara said he is undecided about school but that he wants to continue playing basketball.
“If I get the opportunity and the grades are up to par, I think I can get to the next level,” Camara said.