EVERETT — Forks’ Marky Adams has given opposition coaches headaches on how to handle his size in the low post and anxiety attacks for Northwest Athletic Conference athletic directors worried an Adams-powered monster dunk will shatter a backboard and their facilities budget.
Adams is thriving in his freshman season for the Peninsula College men’s basketball team, but he was a great unknown heading into nonconference play back in November.
Oh, Pirates head coach Mitch Freeman and assistants Donald Rollman and Brian Shirley knew all about the 6-foot-10 Adams’ exploits on the North Olympic Peninsula high school hardwood. They’d been forming a relationship with the big man, last season’s Peninsula Daily News All-Peninsula Boys Basketball MVP, for years.
Adams was a staple at Saturday evening Peninsula contests, whether with teammates or Forks boys coach Rick Gooding, and Freeman and staff always would visit with Adams and fellow Spartan and Pirate Parker Browning postgame.
“We knew he was a high-character kid with great family support,” Freeman said. “We’ve had a chance to watch him since he was in eighth or ninth grade, have known him for a while and knew what we were getting in terms of character, in terms of the person he is.
“As a player, we thought he had a high ceiling, but it was kind of an unknown at what level he could produce. We just knew he was a team guy, and playing for Forks, playing for coach Gooding, we knew he did whatever he could do to make his team better.”
NWAC tourney Saturday
Adams has continued to do exactly that in his freshman season for Peninsula, a starter and major contributor on a Pirates team (19-10) that opens the NWAC Men’s Basketball Tournament with the “Egg McMuffin” or “Breakfast Club” special Saturday, a tournament-opening game against Clackamas (17-12) at the yawn-inducing 8 a.m. hour at Everett Community College.
Adams has shined for Peninsula on both ends of the floor, and his mere presence helps the team in transition.
Adams leads the Pirates in rebounding (6.7 per game), blocks (1.2), is fourth in the entire NWAC in shooting percentage (63 percent), and also scores 10.4 points per game. Many of Adams’ points have come on rim-rattling slam dunks that make those NWAC athletic directors nervous.
“He’s dunked so hard sometimes that we’ve thought he’s going to bring down a rim at one of these gyms,” Freeman said. “He dunks with such ferocity, he puts everything into it and he’s going to bring one down eventually.”
For his size, Adams rarely commits fouls (51 in 29 games, including 27 starts), or turns the ball over (32 turnovers).
He was recognized this week by NWAC North Region coaches with a spot on the region’s All-Defensive team. Adams said his play inside on the defensive end has been his calling card this season.
“Interior defense,” Adams said. “I’ve kinda noticed that teams have a tough time scoring close to the basket… “Some of it is I try to stay as straight up as I can. And I also get away with quite a bit with referees.”
Adams pointed to a preseason officiating seminar arranged by Freeman as a reason behind his ability to play with disciplined aggression defensively.
“I took an officiating class and found out its a lot harder to officiate a game than I thought,” Adams said.
“I gained a better understanding of officials and undertsood they weren’t out to just call fouls on me. We had a few officials come in and talk with us, give us their experiences with officiating, one came in that had gone all the way up to Division One, so you learn what they are looking for and how you can avoid [being whistled for fouls].”
Freeman said Adams embraced the challenge of moving from the Class 1A level to the NWAC before the season even started.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised with what Marky has accomplished,” Freeman said.
“He showed us how committed he was before school even started, coming into the gym from Forks and working two or three days a week, playing in open run and getting shots up. “We knew he was a very motivated player, but did we think tthat would translate into averaging 10 points and seven rebounds a game? No, but we did think he was going to play, we did think he would contribute this year.”
Adams said Peninsula’s location was a big factor in choosing the school.
“One of the major factors in my decision [to play at PC] was I could work more on my game in the summer and the offseason because it was so close. I grew a lot physically and mentally and helped me get ready.”
Adams scored 12 points in his first game for the Pirates and continued to have success as the season wore on.
“He wants to be coached and he’s a great teammate,” Freeman said. “Those two things help him and he’s motivated to put himself in that position. He has guys on the team that believe in him and once he tasted some of that success on the college level he embraced it and his confidence has grown more and more.”
Freeman said Adams has increasingly become part of the team’s success.
“We ask a lot of him, how we defend the on-balls, how he runs the floor, and he runs hard, plays 24 minutes a game for us, probably more minutes than we want to have him out there in terms of rest for him and his knees,” Freeman said. “But we need him in there, he’s a big part of what makes us go. In a weird way he makes us a better transition team because he rebounds the basketball defensively and finds outlets and he gives us more possessions with ability to get a hand on the ball and snag an offensive rebound.
“And he’ll be first-team All-Defense and part of that is because he distorts so many shots, his size and length make opponents move away from him and turn good looks into bad looks [at the basket].”
His high school coach said Adams has remained the same humble, grounded person he’s always been.
“He doesn’t talk a lot, but he works his butt off, so I’m not surprised he’s been doing so well,” Gooding said. “Good things happen to good people too, so I think that plays a role. Marky got into a place with some talented college coaches helping him out and he’s continued to grow.
“But Marky is still Marky. He’s having success but you wouldn’t know it. He still comes to our games, he’s not too cool. Our kids aren’t like, ‘Oh wow, that’s Marky Adams,’ but more like, ‘Oh wow, that’s our buddy Marky Adams.”
And Adams, along with Freeman and his Pirate teammates, is happy with his decision to stay close to home.
“It was definitely the right choice,” He said. “I can’t really see myself anywhere else right now.”