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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Monday / November 20.
  • Kentucky Lands Bam Adebayo, Whose Coach Believes He’s a Potential No. 1 Pick

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    ARDSLEY, NY - May 23: Under Armour Association session three at the House of Sports in Ardsley New York. (Photo by Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

    Bam Adebayo committed to Kentucky on Tuesday. (Photo by Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

    The rich got richer on Tuesday when Bam Adebayo chose Kentucky over home state N.C. State, adding to the Wildcats already rich front court in the Class of 2016.

    “I would like to announce that I’m taking my talents to the University of Kentucky,” Adebayo said on the Mike & Mike show on ESPN News as he put on a blue UK baseball cap.

    “They’re a winning program, they’re just a great all-around environment. I just like the staff and I like Coach Cal.”

    The 6-foot-8 power forward out of High Point Christian (N.C.) is ranked the No. 6 player in the class by ESPN.com. Kentucky already has pledges from No. 7 De’Aaron Fox, No. 23 Wenyen Gabriel and No. 31Sacha Killeya-Jones. 

    The Wildcats now have the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation behind Duke, according to Scout.com.

    With Alex Poythress and potentially other front court players leaving Kentucky after the season, coach John Calipari now has a slew of new options up front in Adebayo, Gabriel and Killeya-Jones to play alongside Tai Wynyard (who arrives in December) and Australian big man Isaac Humphries.

    Adebayo is projected as the No. 10 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com, but his high school coach believes he could ultimately be in the mix as a No. 1 pick.

    Bam“Bam is much more skilled than most people give him credit for,” High Point coach Brandon Clifford told SNY.tv. “He’s a great passer, is becoming a better shooter by the day (even to the 3-point line) and is great at getting the ball off the rim and pushing it himself.

    “In my mind he’s the best player in the country, and a potential No. 1 pick. Of course that sounds biased, but my teams have played against many guys that have held those type of distinctions, and I’d take Bam over ANY of them. People see the body and the motor, he also has the skills that could allow him to play his game for a long time.”

    Asked if he was already thinking about being a one-and-done at Kentucky, Adebayo said, “It’s something that pops into your head every now and then but I’m focused on college basketball right now. I’m just worried about winning a national title.”

    He added: “I can produce, I can make things happen, I’m just one of those players that don’t care how much I score. I just want to win.”

    Adebayo, who averaged 14.2 points and 10.6 rebounds for Team Loaded North Carolina on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit this season, visited Kentucky and N.C. State officially and Auburn unofficially.

    Adebayo had long been linked as part of a potential package deal with Dennis Smith Jr., the point guard who signed with the Wolfpack and then announced he will enroll in January to facilitate his ACL recovery.

    But Adebayo always maintained that he would do what was best for him, and things turned dramatically after Calipari began recruiting him and offered him in late July.

    In July at the adidas Uprising All-American Camp on Long Island, Calipari watched a game featuring Adebayo against Brooklyn guardRawle Alkins. 

    “I guess it means I’m a good player,” Adebayo told me then.

    Calipari then visited Adebayo and his mother in North Carolina several times this fall to show his interest.

    “Their fan base is incredible,” he said this summer. “I like the way they play, fast, they go through their bigs. They just play hard basketball.”

    Asked then if he saw himself as a one-and-done type of player, he said, “I think it’s more a feeling of you feel it in your heart kind of thing.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.