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45 John Adams

John Adams
Hometown (Last School)
Rising Sun, IN
1962-63, 1963-64, 1964-65, 1978-79, 1979-80
May 15, 1943

John Adams was born May 15, 1943, in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Adams hailed from Rising Sun, Indiana, a small Indiana community 25 miles down river from Cincinnati.  His father was a chemist and his mother worked at an insurance agency.

Adams averaged 21 points and 22 rebounds a game in his final schoolboy campaign at Rising Sun High School.  He was an “A” student and was the honorary captain of school basketball, track, and baseball squads.  Adams set a conference high jump record of 5-11 1/2 and was an All-Conference pitcher-first baseman.  Closely watched by UK scouts for two years, Adams was a big, rugged (200 pounder), intelligent boy with a great desire to win that has been the trademark of past UK greats.  His best night in high school play was 34 against Madison (Ind.) Shaw.  

Kentucky found out about Adams through his uncle, who was a good friend of a salesman who was a good friend of Coach (Harry) Lancaster.  Other schools, like Purdue, Vanderbilt, Louisville, Indiana, and Cincinnati, had heard of Adams, too. After all, he had grown to 6-6 by his freshman season in high school. But Adams chose Kentucky.  “I decided to come here for a number of reasons,” Adams said. “Because of the
friendly nature of the people here, because of the prestige of the Kentucky program, and because I was interested in commerce.” Adams had graduated third in his class and UK’s commerce department offered a good, quality education in commerce. That’s why he chose UK over Vanderbilt.

Adams was a 6-6, 200-pound center who had the dubious distinction of following All-American Cotton Nash at that position. He had sat on the bench during his first two varsity seasons watching Nash lead the Wildcats to records of 16-9 and 21-6. Nash had been a popular player.  “Nash was the best player I’ve ever watched or been up against,” said Adams.  “My role those first two years was to learn from him. When I started my senior season, I didn’t feel any pressure to play as well as Cotton. My role was to play defense and rebound and score when I could. I felt real comfortable my senior season.”

As a freshman at Kentucky, Adams was second on the frosh team with 16.6 points and 13.4 rebounds per game.  Adams, always aggressive, also posted the team high in personal fouls with 62.  But Coach Rupp declared: “l like the way this boy mixes it up under the boards. He’s going to come up with the ball more often than not.”  His freshman year rebounding high was 22 against Lindsey Wilson college.  That frosh squad was tagged the “Century Express” when the team opened the season with three straight 100-point efforts, the Kittens cooled off slightly to finish with a 91.5 scoring average.

A seldom-used reserve in his first two varsity seasons, Adams was suddenly vaulted into the limelight his senior year. He responded by leading the team in rebounds (nine per game) and finishing third on the squad in scoring (11 ppg). But the squad had an “average” season, 15-10. Average, that is, if you played for the late Adolph Rupp, who finished his career as the winningest college basketball coach of all time. That record was the worst-ever of any Rupp teams until a couple of seasons later, when the 1966-67 team finished at 13-13.  Adams scored a career-high 24 points against West Virginia on December 18, 1964.  He also snagged 17 rebounds in that game.

Rupp once joked that if Adams cussed a little after making a mistake, he’d really be a good basketball player.

Adams was awarded the WLAP Senior Player of the Year Award and the Sigma Nu Award for leading rebounder at his final banquet.

“We had trouble my senior season because one of our starting guards, Terry Mobley, had a severe eye injury and missed much of the season,” said Adams.  “And, during the season, two other players we were heavily counting on, juniors Larry Conley and Tommy Kron, missed games due to illness and injury. We had players to fill in but they just didn’t have the experience.”

After Adams graduated, he spent a year in private business before deciding to go to law school.  “It wasn’t a lifelong dream of mine,” said Adams. “I felt like I had a decent future with a commerce degree. I enjoyed my school years. But this law professor I knew at UK, ‘Buck’ Richardson, explained the law school process to me and told me I could become a lot more flexible in my abilities. Besides, I was still challenged by the prospect of going to school. My wife was working and she said, ‘Go ahead.”‘  Adams found he liked the law profession and went into private practice in 1969.  He served as a city prosecutor, as a public defender, as a trial commissioner, as an assistant commonwealth attorney, and as a district judge.

College Statistics:

Per Game

1962-63 16   14.9 1.3 4.4 .300 0.3 0.7 .364 5.7 0.3       2.4 2.9
1963-64 16   5.0 0.7 1.7 .407 0.6 0.8 .692 1.8 0.3       1.4 1.9
1964-65 25     3.8 9.5 .403 4.2 5.1 .819 8.6         3.9 11.8
Career 57   10.0 2.2 5.9 .382 2.1 2.6 .775 5.8 0.3       2.8 6.5



1962-63 16   239 21 70 .300 4 11 .364 91 5       38 46
1963-64 16   80 11 27 .407 9 13 .692 28 5       23 31
1964-65 25     96 238 .403 104 127 .819 214         97 296
Career 57   319 128 335 .382 117 151 .775 333 10       158 373




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