In the summer of 2011, two AAU teams faced off in a Las Vegas tournament.
Jordan Adams suited up for his local squad, but he was far from the main event. On his team was Tony Parker, one of the most sought-after big men in the country. On the other was Shabazz Muhammad, the prize recruit of the entire class of 2012.
Adams scored 39, hitting eight 3-pointers and all five of his free-throws. His team won.
It didn’t impress recruiting experts, who left Adams out of the top 20 in rankings. Even his commitment to UCLA, the first of the class, became an afterthought after the Bruins picked up three bigger names in the following months, including Muhammad and Parker.
People keep sleeping on Adams and he keeps waking them up.
The alarm rang again Thursday night, when Adams put up 25 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the Bruins’ blowout win over James Madison. A week into the season, it’s clear that there is a star scorer in this freshman class, just maybe not the one everyone expected.
Looking past the scoring, what sticks out about Adams is how he’s delivering in the one area UCLA has really lacked the past few seasons: confidence.
On his first touch of his first-ever game, Adams didn’t hesitate before launching a long 3-pointer with a man inches away. It didn’t fall, and it didn’t matter. He seems incapable of holding his head (unlike some of his counterparts on the roster), always looking for his next basket.
That miss was the start of a 21-point night (on just 12 shot attempts). He followed that up with 26 points (again, on 12 shots) Tuesday night in a squeaker over UC Irvine, when UCLA needed every last one of 16 makes on 16 free-throw attempts in the one-point win.
All of this was before his jumper really started falling. Adams’ smooth shot was on display during another efficient performance Thursday night, when every one of his baskets kept UCLA’s sports information department glued to the history books as they constantly checked up on his feats.
Of all his accomplishments, one was peerless: By scoring more than 20 in each of his first three games, he did something no Bruin freshman has done before.
For all the faith Adams has in his game, his teammates have just as much faith in him.
“If he’s wide open, in my eyes it’s going to go in,” redshirt junior David Wear said. “We all have that much confidence in him and he has confidence in his shot too. “¦ He knows he can score. … We all have faith that he can do that too.”
Not only can Adams score, he seems capable of scoring in every way possible. It was expected that he’d provide a steady jumper. Now, we know he has so much more in his offensive arsenal.
One possession he’s handling the ball on the fast break, the next he’s posting up his defender in the low block. He gets to the line often and rarely misses, going 28-of-29 to open the season.
“He has an uncanny ability to put the ball into the basket,” redshirt senior point guard Larry Drew II said. “As of right now, I’m not surprised by anything he does anymore.”
What more can Adams do? The numbers suggest he should be starting, but he and coach Ben Howland are content with Adams’ sixth or seventh man role coming off the bench, so hold the orders on the #FreeJordan shirts.
He could use a nickname, though. One UCLA student manager was calling Adams “Assassin’s Creed III” for his deadly shooting and the No. 3 on his jersey. Me? I’ll like him as “The Alarm”, since no one will be sleeping on Adams anymore.
If you fell asleep during the second half of Thursday night’s game, email Menezes at email@example.com or tweet @ryanvmenezes.