Thursday, February 6, 2014

Electrifying Orr Academy Guard Adams Jr. Handling Unfinished Business

When the sky-rising pressure is cranked up, when the noise is ratcheted up and the crowd finds its feet, Lou Adams Jr. answers with a late-game savvy. Make no mistake about it.

Savoring the leadership aspect., the onus is on him to deliver in high-pressure moments. It doesn't matter what he's produced in the last 38 minutes, the assassin's instinct always tends to surface during those final two.

 When the stakes raise, when the big play opens up, one word  and one world only circles through Adams' mind: "Kill."

Energizer is the role Adams has subscribed to on this Orr Academy team, which has channeled last year’s dreadful state championship loss as a primary motivational source.

The 6-foot-4 senior guard's emergence has paralleled an 18-2  record, with Orr eyeballing a city and state championship as end goals.

Adams Jr. has made plenty of noise with extraterrestrial dunks this season, vaulting him into a youtube sensation overnight.

The swagger and pizzazz rooted in his handle and arsenal of moves, albeit Adams’ style is predicated on facilitating and applying confrontational end-to-end defense.

“We’re built on hard defense,” said Adams Jr., who has interest from DePaul, Oregon State, Memphis,  Dayton and Texas Pan-American.

“Our style is hard-nosed defense, in your chest all day. Just knowing each other’s game has been key for this team. Knowing each other’s game and having trust in each other helps. Our mentality is one game at a time, but we play every game like it’s the last.”

Adams’ father, head coach Lou Adams Sr., has long been known as a defense-first fundamentalist. There was never any pressure to mold "Little Lou" as a stud playmaker.

Coaching various teams while evaluating Lou's skill-set as he grew up and became more enamored by the game, Adams Sr. never applied too much pressure. He was never overbearing, a rarity for most Dads who double as head coaches.

“He wanted me to do what I really had to do on my own and let me make my own decisions,” said Adams Jr.

 “He kind of just let it happen. He put the ball in my hands and let me go to work.”

Adams’ grit surfaced during the season-opening win over North Lawndale, when he scored nine of his 14 points in the fourth quarter. He bagged a key 3-pointer and scored on an acrobatic slash, propelling Orr during crunch time.

Adams had one of the most explosive dunks seen in high school basketball this season during Orr’s 53-40 win over Rich Central.

The Spartans’ lone in-state loss came at the hands of Whitney Young, headlined by  Duke-bound 6-foot-11 behemoth Jahlil Okafor.

 That loss, as agonizing as it was to swallow, actually toughened this playoff-hardened core.

“That game really stuck with us, it gave us motivation,” Adams Jr. said.

“That brought us together as a team, just knowing that they didn’t want to play us again. They wanted to forfeit our game and I know they didn’t want to play us.”

Adams has been able to execute a high-low game inside with 6-foot-9 Marlon “Pookie” Jones and 6-foot-7 Tyquane Greer.

Both players are versatile threats in the post, fortifying one of the fiercest frontlines in Class 3A.

"Keyshawn Adams aka "Lil Lou" is one of the most underrated players in America and has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in Chicago," said college basketball scout and local hoops guru Daniel Poneman.

"Just three years ago he was just another kid, not even playing high school ball. Then he transformed like a Pokémon. Next thing I knew, he was a 6-foot-4 high-flying human highlight reel. He is only beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. His best basketball is definitely ahead of him."

Adams is flanked by experienced role players in Sire Carrol and Isaiah Hayes.

The Spartans have smarted from last year’s wounds. They came astonishingly close to tasting a state title.

A balanced 28-5 thrived in the Public League. 

 Orr suddenly emerged along the city power lines of Whitney Young, Simeon, Morgan Park, Curie, and St. Rita, where former DePaul assistant and St. Ray’s (N.Y.) coach Gary DeCesare is now at the helm.

DePaul has been in active pursuit of Adams Jr. since his sophomore year.

 Adams Jr. said he’ll make his NCAA decision based on who has shown the most loyalty and stood the test of time. He is undecided, sifting through options.

Poneman believes that coaches who didn't equate Adams with more highly-touted recruits will ultimately pay a price.

 "All he needs is experience and confidence in his new role as a star player and he could be a major steal for whichever college lands him," Poneman explained.

"He's the type of kid who could take his team to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament in a few years and have all the Top-25 schools scratching their head, wondering how he slipped through the cracks."

The future is as promising as the present is eventful.

Right now, Adams' primary concern is the relentless grind. Returning to the promised land is first and foremost on the list of priorities.

“One thing coach emphasizes is you can’t dwell on what you did last year, you have to move forward,” Adams Jr. said.

“You have to get back to the basics and stick with what got you here."

For Adams and Orr Academy, that means hounding defensive pressure and constant labor.