"I was real young and me and my mom were watching television," said Adebayo. "For some reason, I lifted the coffee table and ever since, they've called me ‘Bam-Bam.'"
Adebayo, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound freshman from Pinetown, N.C. who attends Northside High School, physically dominated older players at the Carolina Challenge. His speed, athleticism and power are advanced for his age and allow him to do things most 15-year-olds can't.
"He's from a small town, one of those you probably wouldn't even see on a map," said Kevin Graves, head coach of the Karolina Diamonds, Adebayo's AAU team. "He didn't start playing basketball early like a lot of these other kids; most of them have been playing basketball since two or three years old."
"When we first got him a lot of the things you see him do now he couldn't do. If he continues to progress the same way, he's going to be a problem in two years."
Adebayo already has the look of a college player. It's easy to notice his chiseled frame and lanky arms from across the gym. Perhaps, what's most obvious, though, is his intensity.
That intensity, he says, is inspired by his favorite NBA player, a player he hopes to model his still-developing game after.
"Kevin Garnett has always been my favorite player," Adebayo said. "(I like) his meanness and his enthusiasm towards other people."
Three years away from enrolling at the college of his choice, Adebayo considers himself a forward who is turning into a "great all-around player."
"I'm looking to improve my jump shot and my ball handling," said Adebayo. "And get my cardio up a little bit. I consider myself a small forward."
Graves offered up a college freshman as a possible comparison for Adebayo.
"He jumps so high and he's so explosive for his size, he can be like the (Montrezl) Harrell kid from Louisville," Graves explained. "He's a baby, he's 15 years old, and he doesn't have grown man muscle yet to play at that level. Or, if he wants to and he works hard enough, he could be a Carmelo Anthony. He's going to be more than just an athlete. I think he can be a pick-and-pop guy and on pick-and-rolls defensively, he can guard four positions. His feet are that quick."
Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina are a few of the schools that have already made contact with either Adebayo's AAU or high school coaches. He was at the Smith Center this past December for UNC's game against UAB.
It's obviously too early for Adebayo to develop the criteria for his college decision, but he did say that one thing above else was important to him.
"Chemistry," he said. "All those schools have good chemistry. If you don't have chemistry, you can't win."
Adebayo is again running with the Karolina Diamonds AAU team, loaded with young high-major talent. Graves, an older cousin of former UNC forward Will Graves, has been coaching the team for the last two years.
In addition to Adebayo, 2016 standouts like Kwe Parker, Junior Smith, Ty Graves and Raekwon Long are on the ' roster.
Notes: Adebayo attended the USA Basketball Developmental National Team mini-camp last October… Diamonds teammate Ty Graves is also the cousin of former UNC forward Will Graves.
Photo by Justin Young/HoopSeen