Krysten Peek has been covering high school and grassroots basketball for the past seven years for Rivals.com. In this series, she takes us back to when some of the NBA’s biggest stars were just getting started in high school.
Edrice “Bam” Adebayo broke out as an elite high school prospect the summer between his sophomore and junior seasons. I remember a co-worker calling me after a youth USA Basketball training camp and saying, “KP, you are going to love this kid, Bam Adebayo.” My reply: “Is his real name Bam?”
He was right. The first time I saw Adebayo play at the 2014 NBPA Top 100 Camp, he came down the lane in transition and put an opponent on a poster.
Adebayo became a target for blue-blood programs such as Kansas, North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky. A native of North Carolina, N.C. State was thought to be the leader to land Adebayo for more than a year, and most fans were surprised when Bam chose Kentucky over the Wolfpack and Auburn.
Adebayo joined a Kentucky team that already had two five-star forwards in Sacha Killeya-Jones and Wenyen Gabriel and a deadly backcourt with De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. Coach John Calipari and the Wildcats had the No. 1 recruiting class heading into the 2016-17 season.
“I think Bam’s way better offensively than everybody realizes,» Calipari said after Adebayo’s commitment to Kentucky. “He can shoot. I’ve seen him make threes. He can drive the ball.»
Adebayo averaged 18.9 points and 13 rebounds per game his senior year at High Point Christian Academy. He was named a McDonald’s All American and participated in both the Nike Hoops Summit and the Jordan Brand Classic. He finished No. 7 overall in a loaded high school recruiting class that included Jayson Tatum, Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz.
What I’ll remember most about Bam as a high school prospect is not how competitive he was on the court, but how he was always joking and laughing with teammates off it.
During his one year at Kentucky, Adebayo was the only Wildcat to start all 38 games, averaging 13 points, eight rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. He also had a remarkable 101 dunks, surpassing Anthony Davis’ single-season record of 92.
Adebayo entered the 2017 draft and was selected No. 14 overall by the Miami Heat. During his rookie season, he only averaged 6.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game but was having a breakout year before this season was suspended, averaging 16.2 points and 10.5 rebounds. Adebayo was also an NBA All-Star this season and was a finalist for the 2020 U.S. men’s national team.
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