Smallest starter, biggest role Boys basketball: Senior point guard C. J. Adams has Wilde Lake on a roll heading into the postseason and, having overcome surgery, is making a strong case for being the team's MVP.

February 27, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Is 5-foot-8, 129-pound senior point guard C. J. Adams Wilde Lake's MVP? His coach, Lester Clay, thinks so.

"Without doubt he's our MVP," Clay said. "He's come a long way and done a tremendous job."

It amazes Clay that Adams, whose first name is Clifton, has accomplished so much despite being the smallest starter in the league.

"When I look at his physical stature, it's hard to figure, because I have kids who are bigger, quicker and stronger. But he consistently puts it together and does what I ask," Clay said. "He understands situations during a game and communicates effectively with me when we're at the foul line. Understanding a coach's philosophy is part of what it takes to be successful."

Clay wasn't sure he'd even have Adams this season. After blood was detected in his urine, Adams had exploratory surgery in November. The surgery revealed no problems, but he missed two weeks, including the first two scrimmages before doctors determined it was safe for him to play.

Now he averages 15 points, four assists, three steals, and shoots 45 percent from the floor and 67 percent at the line -- all team-highs.

"I can't ask for any more from him," Clay said. "Some games he made too many turnovers, but he's cut that down a lot and now has a good assist-to-turnover ratio."

Wilde Lake (10-12 overall, 9-9 league), while making its usual late-season push, has won four of its last five games. Adams scored 20 points in three of those games.

His best overall game was 26 points, nine assists and six steals during a victory against Howard Jan. 29.

Adams had his best shooting percentage game when he made nine of 13 shots (69 percent) against Glenelg in a Feb. 13 victory.

"He's shooting 13 to 19 times per game, which is a lot more than I've ever let a point guard shoot," said Clay, who coached Wilde Lake's JV the past two seasons before taking over varsity this season. "But if the ball goes to C. J., good things usually happen. He knows how to put himself in position to receive the ball on fast breaks and can finish."

Adams appreciates Clay's knowledge of the game.

"If you listen to him, it works," Adams said. "In the beginning of the season, we were losing because people didn't know where they should be and who should shoot. Coach Clay yells a lot, and he's a strict coach -- but that's good. I just listen."

He thinks he has overcome his lack of size by working hard on his speed and ball-handling. At a Five-Star camp last summer he made the all-star team. He ran cross-country this fall to get into shape for basketball.

Adams didn't start playing basketball until the seventh grade, and that was just rec league.

"My uncles, Kyra Hebron and Shawn Hebron, who played for Atholton, taught me a lot about the game," Adams said.

Adams thinks one of his strengths is his ability to drive. "That's where I score most of my points," he said.

Clay thinks Adams biggest improvement this season is that he reads the game better.

"He would start even for Atholton," Clay said. "They'd move [Keith] Jefferson to the No. 2 guard."

Adams is excited about the playoffs because Wilde Lake is playing so well now. The Wildecats drew the No. 1 seed in the Class 2A South Region and won't play their first game until Monday.

"We've got our team chemistry together now. Everyone knows their spots."

Pub Date: 2/27/97

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