Adams has a shot at redemption

This wasn't like missing 10 minutes against Houston. At least then he was on the bench, in uniform and played in the game. Last weekend Hassan Adams' team was at the Pac-10 Tournament and he was in Tucson.

True, Adams brought it upon himself. He knows it. He knows that his DUI forced the Cats to suspend him. He knew it was coming, but that did not make it any easier.

"He's taking this hard," said one source close to the team. "He's embarrassed and really feels like he let his team down."

Adams did what he could. He watched the games on television. He called his teammates daily. He tried to be a leader.

As much of a leader as he could be 500 miles away.

Adams knows he is to blame, but it does not make it any easier. His stupid act cost him a chance to play his final college games in his hometown of Los Angeles. It was his final shot to play in front of his family and friends.

Now his college career is day to day and his pro future is in doubt.

10 games ago Adams was averaging 19.8 ppg. He was a potential All-American and a player who was being discussed as a potential Pac-10 Player of the Year. Before the flight to Chapel Hill Adams was a potential mid first rounder.

Today his scoring average has dropped almost three points a game. Forget All-American, he barely made the All-Pac-10 team. He's hurt his shoulder, been cited for drunk driving and missed the game winner against Washington.

The NBA? Who knows? He's got the athleticism but he has a lot to prove.

Luckily, he has a chance.

Adams will get at least one game to impress the scouts on the highest stage. Numerous players improved their stock in just a few games in the NCAA's. Richard Jefferson became a lottery pick thanks to his play in the Cats' 2001 title game run. Channing Frye left for Boise last year as a potential top-25 pick. By the time the smoke cleared in suburban Chicago he was a lottery pick as well.

Chris Wilcox anyone? Pervis Ellison? Sean May? Mike Dunleavy?

You get the point. A few stellar performances and a few upset wins and Adams can erase a month of bad publicity. The bigger question is whether or not he has the moxy to do it. At the beginning of the year I would not have bet against him, but this seems to be a different Hassan Adams. He seems less fiery, less confident. He seems beaten down.

Other than a case of the flu, there have been no reports of anything wrong with Hassan, but he just hasn't seemed right since the North Carolina game.

While many are doubting him, his teammates are not. His fellow Wildcats are glad to get him back.

"It's good to have our leader back," said Bret Brielmaier. "He brings a lot of intensity to the court."

"It'll be great to have him back," Marcus Williams added. "He brings a lot of intensity each game"

What we do know is that any potential run is predicated on Adams playing well. The Cats have won just once when Adams failed to score in double figures. Although he has played well in losses, when he plays bad, so do the Cats.

Arizona did not seem to miss him in the win over Stanford, but clearly missed him against the Bruins. They needed his athleticism, his offense and his defensive ability. Most importantly, they needed his leadership.

"It will mean a lot for us," Mustafa Shakur said. "It will be nice to have on of our go-to guys back. We're going to need his athleticism and emotion the rest of the way."

This weekend can go two ways for Adams. He can get mad, come out and prove something. He can come out, play smart and attempt to put the Wildcats on his back. Hopefully he spent the last week resting, getting his shoulder healthy and focusing on the task at hand.

Of course it could go the opposite way. He could come out flat, play uninspired and the Cats could go home early. Worse, he could revert to Maui form. Pressing to impress the scouts, jacking up threes and hurting the Cats more than he helps them.

The funny thing with Adams, and this team as a whole is that we just can't predict what effort we will get out of Adams. In the past we knew. We knew Jason Gardner would battle to the end. We knew Jason Terry would give it his all. You could count on great leadership from Luke Walton and Miles Simon. Pro scouts or no pro scouts you knew the Wildcat greats would do their best to win, the right way.

We can't guarantee that about this crop of Cats.

Luckily, Adams has a chance to redeem himself. After one terrible week, Adams has a chance to have one of his best.

If the Wildcats are playing next week, it will be due in large part to Adams.


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