BY LARRY VAUGHT
Bam Adebayo’s high school coach, Brandon Clifford, says he has never coached a more talented player but that Adebayo also understood the intricacies of playing basketball far better than most.
“He comes from a different mindset,” Clifford said. “All he knows is to go get the ball and play hard. That’s a product of where he’s from. He’s from an area where he has had to work for everything. That work ethic has been instilled in him. He was raised so well by his mother than no success changes him.
“He’s just from a small town here in North Carolina, but since he signed with Kentucky he has become somewhat of a celebrity. However, he’s the same guy I first met. That makes me very confident he will be successful at Kentucky because success has not changed him. He’s so gifted he does not always have to bring it to be successful, but he always does. That’s who he is.”
But other guys also play hard. Why he is a rebounding machine, or “beast” on the boards as John Calipari once said?
“He is 6-10, 265 (pounds). Take that with freak athleticism — he can run, he can jump, he’s s super coordinated. But what makes he him such a good rebounder is that he just has an instinct to kind of read the basketball. He reads it off the rim and pursues it like every rebound is his,” Clifford said.
“He’s a super quick jumper. He can come down and go back up quicker than some can jump once. He has shown he can rebound against the best players in the country as well as small Class A basketball players in North Carolina. He has just has a nose for the basketball and in college he will finally be able to get physical. In high school, if he hit somebody, they moved and he got cheap fouls.
“When Cal is on him every day, he will just be a phenomenal rebounder. He just wants the ball more than most people do and Cal understands that.”