Kane County Chronicle Athlete of the Week: Jax Abalos, Batavia, basketball, junior

Abalos had a buzzer-beater 3-pointer to lift Batavia to a 44-41 win over Wheaton North on Dec. 9

Batavia junior guard Jax Abalos. Photo courtesy of Batavia Athletics.

Name: Jax Abalos

School: Batavia, junior

Sport: Basketball

Why he was selected: Abalos had a buzzer-beater 3-pointer to lift Batavia to a 44-41 win over Wheaton North on Dec. 9. Abalos was selected Athlete of the Week by readers in an online vote. Chronicle sports reporter Jacob Bartelson caught up with Abalos to discuss his season and more.

Bartelson: Let’s start with the game-winner. At least on varsity level, was that your first career buzzer-beater? How gratifying a feeling was that?

Abalos: I believe that was my first ever buzzer-beater game winner, and it was really just a great experience overall. A few times in my career, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and I’ve only made it a few times. Especially on varsity, this was a really great experience.

Bartelson: Team-wise, this group is playing well overall. What’s your assessment as to why it’s been working so far?

Abalos: I think it all starts with practice and how hard we go during it. I’d say in practice it’s harder to score than in game just because of how hard everyone plays on defense. I also think a big factor is the talent that we have and how hard we work outside of practice; whether that be waking up at 5:30 a.m. to get shots up, lifting after practice and even just working hard in practice drills.

Bartelson: On yourself, I’ve seen you play dating back to last year, but for those that haven’t: what elevation have you made to your game that’s been on display?

Abalos: I’d say the thing I’ve worked a lot on to improve is my athleticism. My vertical has increased, my speed has increased and I’ve done more with the ball this year. Athleticism has also led to blocks I’ve had this season, dunks and deflections or steals. Also, last year I was mostly a shooter, and now I still am but I can also play off the dribble if needed and make the right play.

Bartelson: Nate Nazos, of course, is a gifted shooter and passer. You play with him: what’s an under-appreciated aspect of his game that you see every day that deserves to be highlighted?

Abalos: I think the best part about Nate is his defense. He is one of our best defenders and always puts pressure on the other team’s point guard and helps us out with multiple steals a game. He has also greatly improved his shooting since last year and I always saw him working on it over the summer.

Bartelson: You get to meet any current professional or college hoops player. Who would you like to meet and why?

Abalos: I would love to meet Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat guard). My mom and I have always been big fans since he was on the Bulls, and we’ve watched every team he’s been on since. He’s also a huge inspiration from his childhood to his great NBA career.