Before Bam Adebayo started his seventh grade basketball season, he had already dunked a basketball. His motor has never quit running since then, either.
The 6-10, 255-pound Adebayo is being counted on to solve the deficiencies Kentucky had with its post play last season with his physical presence and dominant rebounding.
He’s been called a “monster” by many because of the strength and energy he has on the court.
“That is just motivational for me. But really I am a clown, a goofy guy. On the court, I am very serious. It’s time for business on the court. If I am not on the court, you can laugh and smile,” he said.
Just don’t try to intimidate him on the court. It won’t happen. But he also insists he’s not sure why he would intimidate other players.
“I don’t see why they would be intimidated. I am a nice guy. I am not going to hurt anybody. But I have seen guys just see me take off my warm-up and all my body muscle show and then they are like, ‘Wow.’ Maybe that is intimidating,” Adebayo laughed and said.
Then again, how can a player who freely admits he likes to listen to music by Katy Perry and Whitney Houston be that intimidating? He says Perry is his favorite musical artist because he is “perky” and has happy music that he likes to hear.
What if she came to a Kentucky game? “I would hope that would be the game I played in my college career,” Adebayo said. “I’ve just had a little vibe with her since ninth or 10th grade.”
No, he didn’t have Katy Perry posters at home and has none at UK.
“I’m not that bad,” he joked. “I really like her music, but I can’t sing to save my life.”
What he can do is energize a basketball team with his emotion, physical play and rebounding. He proved that to veteran high school coach Jack Doss of Alabama during the McDonald’s All-American Game in Chicago in April.
“He got up and down the floor. He handled the ball. He has a great upside,” Doss, who also had UK signees De’Aaron Fox and Sacha Killeya-Jones on his team, said. “To be that big and athletic, his motor still runs all the time. He is going to be a beast on the boards for Kentucky.”
That’s his plan. He wants high expectations on himself.
Could he get a triple-double this year? “I can’t predict that, but that is the expectation,” Adebayo said. “I also expect to win a national title.”
That’s what Adebayo is not worried about preseason honors — or his future NBA draft status.
“Right now I am focusing on me and my team. I just want to focus on us being the best team in college basketball and winning the national title,” Adebayo said.
He knows his nickname likely will make him the target of taunts from opposing fans — but he’s okay with that.
“Bam kind of fits with the physicality of my body. Me and my mom, when we lived in New Jersey, were watching the ‘Flintstones’ on TV. I was kind of disruptive and would break stuff. Instantly, I was called Bam Bam (after the cartoon character). Then it just went to Bam.
“One away game in high school all the fans had Flintstone posters. They even let me keep one of those posters. So if you know it is coming, you may as well just have fun with it.”