Being mindful of others is a point of emphasis on and off the court for Science Hill senior Will Adams.
So it was appropriate that the Hilltoppers point guard reached the 1,000-point plateau in the same span that he’s handed out some 500 assists, which have meant well in excess of 1,000 points for others.
Adams was recognized before Tuesday’s Big Eight Conference opener against Volunteer, a 90-33 victory during which he helped his teammates pile up 49 points before he scored.
“You’re talking about a kid that did that (score 1,000 points) who also has 250 steals and is right at 500 assists,” Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip said. “I mean, that’s what makes that so special. It’s not like he scored a thousand shooting a lot. And then he goes out on a night like that (against Volunteer) and doesn’t look to score.”
Adams joined his cousins Jovann (2,188 points) and Damon Johnson (1,034) in reaching the milestone. He’s on a short list of Hilltoppers football-basketball players that have reached the century mark and been one of primary skill players in football. Sammy “Dee Dee” Stuart (1,293 points essentially in two seasons), Steve Spurrier (1,470) and Brad Fields (1,576) come to mind.
Adams scored 29 career touchdowns and had 10 interceptions. He had some 2,500 yards total offense during his career, including approximately 1,700 rushing yards.
He was often at his best in crucial moments. His 64-yard touchdown against Tennessee High his sophomore season came when Science Hill trailed 17-0 early in the second half. He forced a fumble on the Vikings’ next play from scrimmage, giving the Hilltoppers possession at the THS 10-yard line to set up another TD.
He made interceptions against Maryville and Oak Ridge in the playoffs. He recovered Karns’ onside kick to preserve Science Hill’s first playoff victory in 10 years in 2011. And his 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Morristown West this season came after the Trojans had cut Science Hill’s lead to 28-24.
“Will always comes up big in clutch situations,” Science Hill tight end-linebacker Grant Janeway said afterward in a matter-of-fact tone.
Indeed, Adams has lived up to the expectations he’s lugged around Science Hill’s campus since he was a freshman.
Adams made four straight free throws in the final 40 seconds of a tight win at Dobyns-Bennett his freshman season, and D-B coach Charlie Morgan has essentially been bemoaning Adams’ penetration ever since.
Adams was the first player Oak Hill Academy coach Steve Smith mentioned after his Warriors won at Science Hill last year, and Adams outplayed talented Cherokee point guard James Scales (now at King College) in the regional championship at Cherokee last season.
“You know Will’s there when you need him most,” Cutlip said.
Despite athleticism that puts smiles on spectators’ faces, people around Science Hill invariably talk about Adams’ kind smile.
“You can’t find a better kid in the whole world than him,” Science Hill football coach Stacy Carter said. “Will’s something else. He’s a special human being, and a special player, too.
“It’s just how he treats people – everybody he comes in contact with. That’s what impresses me, whether it’s an adult or a small kid – not to mention the kind of athlete he is, which is just unbelievable. I mean, you never want to put a kid on a pedestal. I know that, but I am. He’s a great one.”
Football and basketball teammate Reed Hayes thinks highly of Adams, who he often prayed with before football games with assistant coach Benny Tolley.
“Will and (football teammate) O’Ryen Scott would always sing to my 104-year-old grandmother and other elderly people in the nursing home around Christmas time or for her birthday,” Hayes said. “Will is always gonna play his heart out and always give all of his effort. You never would have to worry about him getting in trouble at school or arguing with coaches at practice.”
Science Hill’s basketball team is small but fast and quick, and the athletic 5-foot-10 Adams enjoys engineering a breakneck pace with the likes of Hayes, C.J. Good, Malik McGue and Patrick Good.
“It’s super fun,” Adams said. “I’m glad we can all run like that.”
Adams has played at Science Hill in an era when new football and basketball facilities were completed.
“It’s a blessing,” Adams said. “I feel lucky that I get to experience the feeling in this new gym. It’s exciting.”
Basketball players have also experienced trips to Hawaii and the Bahamas, the latter of which concluded last weekend.
“Gosh, it was paradise,” Adams said with the infectious smile. “It was a lot of fun and I’m glad that I got to go. But then again, there’s no place like Johnson City. I was ready to get back.”
Indeed, the Bahamas was a business trip, a runner-up tournament run that benefitted the Hilltoppers in their quest to return to the state tournament.
“The teams were tall and athletic,” Adams said. “They didn’t really run any plays. They just lowered their head and drove to the hole, rebounded and could jump.
“It helped us a lot, because refs down there, they don’t really call that much, you know, and they let us play. We got a lot more physical from going down there and playing.”
Adams could’ve likened the experience to grinding across the goal line.
“Will would go through and they would just grab his arm,” Cutlip said. “But it was consistent the whole time. They let you play.”
Adams must have a “bigger” role this season thanks to Science Hill losing its three tallest regulars – Hunter Leveau, Zach Howard and Tre’vonn Fields – from last season’s state semifinalist. Adams will end up switched off defending posts occasionally, among other things.
“Coach Cutlip has always told me I have to get back (on defense),” he said, “but this year we lost a lot of bigs, and he’s telling me now I have to start going to the boards.”
It’s easy to tally a lot of Adams’ contributions, but difficult to quantify perhaps even more.
“The greatest thing is he’s a super kid,” Cutlip said. “He’s a tremendous role model and a great leader in our program.”