His parents named him “Prince” because they knew he’d be something special when he grew up.
And right now Prince Adams is playing high school basketball at an elite level.
The 6-foot-5 Evanston Township High School senior topped himself again Saturday afternoon against Mundelein High School, registering a career-high for points – 29 this time – for the fourth time this season to lead the unbeaten Wildkits in a 61-48 trimming of the Mustangs at Beardsley Gymnasium.
Adams converted 13 of 15 shots from the floor and added 11 rebounds, four blocked shots and four steals as ETHS improved to 6-0 on the season. Veteran head coach Mike Ellis might run out of accolades if Adams can continue to play at such a torrid pace.
“I’ve coached some great players, but I haven’t seen that happen,” said Ellis after Adams stashed in almost half of the Wildkits’ total points. “Prince has such a quiet demeanor – but he has a loud game, and he really gets results. He’s so efficient with the way he puts the ball in the basket and gets to the free throw line too.
“One of the high points for us is that the other players are doing such a great job of getting him the ball. And he hasn’t let them down when they do that.
“We can still play better, but these guys have shown that they enjoy playing together and it shows in the way they’ve found Prince [underneath] over the past four games and made sure he got some touches. This is an unselfish group, and he’s getting the ball within the flow of the offense.”
Adams averaged just 7.5 points per game as a junior when the ETHS coaching staff at times questioned his “motor” and looked for a more consistent effort from him.
Even with the hoopla surrounding the arrival of five transfers into the program this summer, Ellis described it as “Prince’s team” for the only returning starter. And now he’s shifted his game into overdrive.
At the same time, the senior standout has also assumed responsibility for leading the Wildkits through the rough patches this season.
“I’m the only four-year varsity player we have, and I need to keep everyone in the right positions for us to succeed as a team,” Adams said. “I still have work to do, I could be better at it. But I’ve been getting so much encouragement from the coaches and my teammates, and they have expected more out of me, so I have to give it back to them in return.
“Our guards have some real skills when it comes to breaking down defenses, so it’s easy for me to get good looks. Crashing the boards helps too.”
Adams took over in the third quarter after the Wildkits let Mundelein (2-4 overall) hang around for a half, trailing just 31-24 at the intermission when Evanston junior Brandon Watson went the length of the court with a steal for a layup with 5 seconds left on the clock.
Adams did it all in the third quarter. He blocked shots, dunked twice and uncorked a dazzling spin move for a layup as part of a 10-point quarter to boost Evanston’s advantage to 47-34 and prevented another big lead from slipping away, as it had in the previous night’s 2-point win over Glenbrook South.
“I didn’t feel like it was slipping away from us,” Adams said. “I just think we’re a good enough team that we could have kept more distance from them [on the scoreboard], and that’s why I tried to turn it up a notch.”
Adams restored order and repeatedly worked his way open for feeds from Malachi Barrett (6 assists), Hunter Duncan (4 assists) and Watson (4 assists). As a team, the Wildkits piled up 18 assists on 26 field goals and shot 59% from the field.
Jonah Ross fired in 14 points for the winners, connecting on 4 of 6 attempts from 3-point range.
Mundelein was led by Trey Thompson with 18 points, and Emmanuel Willoughby and Vinny Rogalski contributed 10 points apiece.
“All our guys are playing hard. But we’re not always executing together and we’re not all on the same page yet,” said Ellis. “We HAVE shown how good we can be over a stretch of time. We had 23 turnovers today and that’s way too many. We didn’t play as well as we could have, but it’s a process. We’re finding out what we can and can’t do well. We just need to make sure that we keep the game simple.”