Hassan Adams Update and Interview

I had a chance to talk to incoming Arizona recruit Hassan Adams of Westchester High School about his season so far, his rivalry with Fairfax's Evan Burns and why he chose Arizona over hometown UCLA. The 6-5, 200-pound wing had plenty of interesting and insightful things to say.

Adams and his Westchester team are 4-0 and ranked number one nationally heading into the start of the Christmas holiday tournaments. The team departs this Monday for the City of Palms Classic in Palm Beach, Florida and won't return until December 23rd for Christmas at home before hitting the road again.

After the short break, it's off to Houston for the National High School Holiday Tournament that features some great teams from all over America, including Oakland's Oakland Tech, led by junior power forward (and potential Arizona target) Leon Powe (6-7, 240).

I asked Adams if he was going to try to persuade Powe to join him in Tucson in a couple years.

"Oh yeah," Adams said. "I'm gonna give him some tips."

After finally settling back in L.A., Adams faces another extreme challenge when Westchester travels crosstown to play rival Fairfax and UCLA-bound Evan Burns for the second time in less than a month on January 8th.

Westchester won round one against Fairfax 86-84 on the strength of Adams's 26 points, 19 of which came in the second half.

"That game was just about whoever wanted it more," said Adams, who is known for his relentless attacking style of play as well as for his scoring prowess. "That's our biggest rivalry game because they're in our league. We'll play them like three more times."

Going up against Evan Burns three more times should make for standing room only crowds and loads of national attention, but Adams says his head-to-head matchups with Burns aren't as filled with bad blood as some suggest.

"(Evan and) I are cool off the court. I mean, we're even cool on the court. It's just that I love taking the best guy on the other team and that's him."

Adams is averaging 19.5 points per game so far on a team loaded with Division-One talent. Point guard Ashanti Cook, who hit the game-winning free throws against Fairfax, is heading to New Mexico to play college ball. Four other teammates of Adams's will also be playing at the next level. That kind of talent, along with the nation's #1 ranking has brought a lot of attention to Adams and Westchester in general.

"(Darius) Miles and Q (Quentin Richardson) come to our games," Adams said of the L.A. Clippers teammates. "They're real cool. They're about our age so we hang out and play video games and stuff."

Miles jumped to the NBA straight out of high school in East St. Louis and is only 19-years-old, while "Q-Rich" (as Adams calls him) played two years at DePaul before making the jump. I asked Hassan what they had to say about his decision to play at Arizona.

"Oh they say it's great!" Adams says, his voice rising an octave with excitement. "They say to go there and handle my business and to listen to the coaches and let them teach you how to get to the next level."

Adams says the coaching was a major reason he chose to sign with Arizona even after being pressured to stay at home and play for UCLA.

"I really like coach O," Adams said. "I like his style, the way he runs practices, everything. Plus, I like how he plays freshmen and that he's a great teacher. It's very important to have a coach to teach me to get better. I am working hard right now so that I can be ready to come in and play.

"I went and watched UCLA a couple of times and I didn't like the practices. (Bruin head coach Steve Lavin) didn't stay on them when they weren't doing things. Some of their guys just sat on stationary bikes on the sidelines and he didn't put them through any good drills. He's really laid back and doesn't get on them for messing up.

"I need someone to push me and to teach me like my coach right now and I know coach O will next year."

Some so-called recruiting experts have Hassan Adams listed anywhere from the 15th to the 35th best recruit in the land. But after talking to the kid and listening to what he had to say, one realizes that maybe he should be ranked number one in terms of perceptiveness, knowing what he wants and working hard to get it.

If there is one thing I would say to the Arizona fans out there, it's that Hassan Adams "gets it".

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