Adams plans to savour his UConn basketball Senior Night
Storrs — Jalen Adams arrived in Storrs billed as the next great UConn guard.
A highly-regarded recruit out of prep school powerhouse Brewster Academy, Adams grew up in the same Roxbury, Mass., neighborhood as Shabazz Napier, who went on to help the Huskies capture two national championships.
But Adams has been part of more gory days than glory days during his career.
Barring a miracle run, Adams will graduate with one NCAA tournament victory in his only post-season trip. The Huskies (14-15, 5-11) are trying to avoid a third straight losing season.
Adams will be honored before Thursday's regular season home finale against Temple in an American Athletic Conference game at Gampel Pavilion (7 p.m., CBSSN). Graduate transfers Tarin Smith and Kassoum Yakwe and senior Eric Cobb also will be part of the ceremony.
But Adams will be a spectator, still working his way back from a sprained knee suffered in the previous meeting with Temple (21-8, 11-5) on Feb. 6 in Philadelphia. The Huskies have won just once without their lead guard.
Working out in the UConn practice facility and looking at the banners of Husky legends serve as a source of motivation for Adams.
"It's definitely not been a burden," Adams said. "If anything, it inspired me, just every day you come in and see those guys up there. Especially if you're a guard, you know what you've got to do. It's never like, 'Damn, I never lived up to what they did. It's just like, 'I've still got more to go.' It keeps adding fuel to the fire."
Coach Dan Hurley appreciates Adams' contribution.
"He's had a lot of great moments here," Hurley said. "I'm sure he's learned so much about himself, grown, matured, developed so much in his time here. ... He's been a good leader and encouraging the younger guys, treating to keep hope in the season with these guys."
There's no timetable for Adams' return ... if he returns at all this season. He's running out of time with UConn finishing the regular season Sunday at East Carolina and then playing in the AAC tournament on March 14 in Memphis.
"Definitely a lot better," Adams said when asked how he's feeling. "It's just more a mental thing for me. ... Obviously, I wish I could be out there with my teammates at Gampel for one last time. A win would satisfy all that."
Adams, who's averaging a team-best 17 points, has racked up some impressive individual statistics. He's 12th on the school's all-time leading scorer list with 1,659 points and tied for ninth on the all-time assist list with Ryan Boatright, both with 491. He's also second on the AAC career scoring list, trailing only former Houston standout Rob Gray (1,710). He's played in 121 career games, starting 96.
One moment that Adams will always be remembered for is sinking a 70-foot buzzer-beating shot to force a fourth overtime in a 2016 AAC quarterfinal game against Cincinnati. The Huskies went on to win the tourney title and qualify for the NCAA tournament.
"It's great to be remembered for that, but I really just want to be remembered as a good guy between my teammates and my coaching staff, because that stuff lasts forever," Adams said. "That was a lucky, great shot. I built some pretty solid friendships that will last a lifetime."
Hurley believes that Adams has a future in the professional ranks. Adams has been invited to participate in the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational, a spring showcase for departing seniors.
"He's a super talented player and an incredibly likable guy, and very, very smart," Hurley said. "He's got so much more ahead him in life that he can accomplish as a player. I believe he's got a chance to play in the NBA someday, or at the worst have a very lucrative career playing somewhere."
For now, Adams is not looking too far ahead. He's excited about experiencing his first Senior Night. He attended a couple different high schools.
"I never expected this," Adams said. "It's going to be pretty cool."
Both teams have something to play for on Thursday.
Temple is fighting to improve its NCAA tournament resume. UConn still has a shot to finish with a winning record this season.
"That means a lot to me and it means a lot to these guys," Hurley said. "We also want to finish the season the best we can and to try to honor the older players the right way and then build some momentum for us."
UCONN vs. TEMPLE
Location: Gampel Pavilion, Storrs
Tip: 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
Records: UConn 14-15, 5-11; Temple 21-8, 11-5
Last game: UConn beat South Florida, 60-58, Sunday; Temple lost at Memphis, 81-73, Tuesday
Probable starters: Temple, 6-4 sr. guard Shizz Alston, Jr. (19.1 pts, 5.2 assists), 6-4 so. guard Nate Pierre-Louis (13.6 pts, 5.7 rebs), 6-8 jr. guard Quinton Rose (16.6 pts, 3.6 rebs), 6-7 so. forward J.P. Moorman II (5.8 pts, 4.2 rebs), 6-11 jr. center Damion Moore (3 pts, 2.5 rebs)
UConn, 6-3 grad guard Tarin Smith (8.2 pts), 6-0 r-soph. guard Alterique Gilbert (13 pts, 3.7 assists), 6-7 r-fr. forward Sidney Wilson (4.7 pts, 2.6 rebs), 6-8 so. forward Tyler Polley (8.2 pts, 2.3 rebs), 6-10 so. forward Josh Carlton (8.3 pts, 5.9 rebs)
Noteworthy: Regular season home finale, honoring Smith, Jalen Adams, Kassoum Yakwe and Eric Cobb on Senior Night. ... Win over USF snapped 6-game losing skid. ... Fourth-place Owls won three of last four. In contention for AAC tourney first round bye. ... Huskies tied for 9th. ... Series: UConn leads 10-9, losing last meeting 81-63 Feb. 6 in Philly. Huskies faced largest halftime deficit (26) of season. Owls shot 52.7 percent. ... Last trip to Storrs for Temple coach Fran Dunphy who's retiring. ... Top reserve: 6-10 so. forward Justyn Hamilton (5.3 pts, 2.6 rebs). ... Owls 13th in nation in steals per game at 8.9. ... Hot: Alston 1st in AAC in FT percentage (90.5), 2nd in scoring, 3rd in assists. Cold: UConn's streak of consecutive games with at least one 3-pter ended vs. USF, going 0 for 15. ... Temple 3rd in AAC overall in scoring offense (75 pts per game), 9th in scoring defense (71.2). ... UConn 8-0 at Gampel, last going undefeated in Storrs 2008-09 season. ... UConn one loss shy of setting new program high for losses in AAC. Went 7-11 last season. ... Up next: UConn visits East Carolina Sunday afternoon in regular season finale.
— Gavin Keefe