Kentucky basketball fans will be thrilled to hear that the latest of their 5-star recruits, High Point Christian’s Edrice “Bam” Adebayo, is bigger than they thought.
Most recruiting services list Abebayo, a power forward, at 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds. In Concord for the Cannon Classic last weekend, Abebayo was happy to report that he’s grown.
“I’m 6-10, man,” he said with a grin.
“I’m 6-8,” High Point Christian coach Brandon Clifford said, “and he’s an inch and a half taller than me. So he’s closer to 6-10.”
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Adebayo is ranked as the nation’s No. 6 overall recruit by ESPN. He committed to Kentucky on a national radio show this month. Adebayo and High Point Christian, ranked No. 12 in USA Today’s national poll, will play at Myers Park High Saturday in the Charlotte Hoops Challenge. At 7:30, the Cougars will face Providence Day, No. 1 in the Observer’s Sweet 16 poll.
Last season at Northside High in Pinetown, in eastern N.C., Adebayo averaged 32.2 points and 21 rebounds. He was an Associated Press all-state pick. Last June, he led a U.S. select team in scoring, averaging 11.3 points. The Americans finished 3-0 at the 2015 adidas EuroCamp in Treviso, Italy.
In August, Adebayo transferred to High Point Christian, joining a team with nine Division I recruits, including Boston College recruit Ty Graves, a point guard who transferred from Greensboro Page; former Page standout Jalen Seegars; and Michael Hueitt, who transferred from Village Christian in Fayetteville.
At High Point Christian, Adebayo plays in the N.C. Independent 3A classification, arguably the toughest in North Carolina among public and private schools. He also plays a national schedule and in events such as the Charlotte Hoops Challenge, which will feature more than 50 Division I recruits.
Adebayo said enrolling at High Point Christian was the right decision for him.
“It was a good fit for me basketball-wise and academic-wise to move,” Adebayo said of leaving Northside, a 1A public school. “It wasn’t a hard transition.”
Until arriving at High Point Christian, Adebayo said he had never lifted weights seriously. He’s has added 20 pounds he said.
In three games this season, Adebayo is averaging 16.3 points, 11.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. Known for his powerful dunks, he has shown improved ball handling and shooting skills. He is also 57 points away from 2,000.
“His ceiling,” Cannon School coach Che’ Roth said, “is limitless. I don’t think there’s a player in the country that has a higher ceiling. I don’t know if there’s a better big (man) in the country because of his combination of athleticism, size, motor and intangibles.”
Adebayo is part of an N.C. 2016 class that has produced three top 10 national recruits. Harry Giles, a 6-10 forward from Winston-Salem, has signed with Duke. Dennis Smith, a 6-2 point guard from Fayetteville, has signed with N.C. State. Adebayo and Smith are friends and played on the same AAU team. It had long been assumed that Adebayo -- given the nickname “Bam” by his mother -- would join Smith in Raleigh.
He surprised many when he went on national radio and announced for Kentucky and coach John Calipari.
“Everybody said, ‘You gotta be your own man,’” Adebayo said, “and I was being my own man and making my own decisions. (Kentucky) was the best fit for me.”
Coach Clifford says in Adebayo the Wildcats are getting the best of the N.C. recruits, though Adebayo ranks below Giles and Smith on most recruiting charts.
“He’s different,” Clifford said. “I think of all the talent in his class in North Carolina, I think Bam will be the best pro. He’s so athletic. I’m not the only one who feels that way. It’s just the way he plays the game, with so much athleticism and so much strength. He’s going to go a long, long way.”
Wertz: 704-358-5133; @langstonwertzjr
Charlotte Hoops Challenge at Myers Park
Gym 1: Rocky River vs. Concord First Assembly, 12:30; Rocky River vs. Charlotte Christian girls, 2; Grace Christian vs. Carmel Christian, 3:30; Victory Christian vs. The Burlington School, 5
Gym 2: South Meck vs. Central Cabarrus girls, 1:30; South Meck vs. Davidson Day, 3; Collins Hill (Ga.) vs. Olympic, 4:30; Northside Christian vs. Providence Day girls, 6; Raleigh Word of God vs. Providence Day, 7:30
Gym 1: Hopewell vs. Grace Christian, 12:30; Hopewell girls vs. Northside Christian, 2; Burlington School vs. Word of God, 3:30; Cannon School vs. Olympic, 5
Gym 2: Providence Day vs. Ardrey Kell girls, noon; Concord First Assembly vs. Collins Hill (Ga.), 1:30; Myers Park vs. Charlotte Catholic, 3; Concord Robinson vs. Butler, 4:30; Myers Park girls vs. Davidson Day, 6; Providence Day vs. High Point Christian, 7:30
5 Players to Watch
Edrice “Bam” Adebayo, High Point Christian: Top 10 national recruit and Naismith candidate signed with Kentucky. His team is ranked No. 12 by USA Today. Adebayo is a 6-10 senior forward.
Rawle Alkins, Raleigh Word of God: 6-4 senior guard is a Naismith national player of the year candidate. His team is ranked No. 22 by USA Today.
Eleah Parker, Northside Christian: Top 50 4-star recruit in the 2017 class is a 6-4 post player.
Erin Whalen, Providence Day girls: Vanderbilt signee is top 50 5-star national recruit in 2016 class. Her team is six-time reigning state champion.
Grant Williams, Providence Day: 2014-15 Observer’s co-player of the year and Associated Press all-state pick. A 6-7 senior forward, Williams signed with Tennessee.
Want To Go?
Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for children (Ages 1-5 admitted free). Doors open each day at 11:30 a.m. No passes will be accepted.