How KJ Adams helped KU basketball beat Missouri … with his ball-handling skills

Kansas forward KJ Adams has earned the trust of his teammates to do whatever he wants on the court.

That trust in Adams manifested late in KU’s 73-64 victory over the Missouri Tigers on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Tigers full-court pressed the Jayhawks with 5:33 left, with KU up 10, 59-49. As Kevin McCullar scanned the court to inbound the ball, he found Adams wide open for a pass, and the Jayhawks cleared out.

Adams raced the ball upcourt, deftly keeping it away from Missouri guard Curt Lewis. He found freshman Elmarko Jackson for the cutting layup.

It’s not often you see a 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward pull off a move like that in the NBA, much less college basketball.

But Adams isn’t exactly an ordinary forward. And that’s why his teammates have compared him to NBA All-Star Draymond Green.

Adams has a knack for making the right play at the right time, much like Green. The forward finished with 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting with five assists against Missouri. It was his third straight game with 15-plus points.

And his teammates weren’t exactly surprised by it.

“He plays guard, too,” McCullar said of Adams bringing the ball up. “He plays every position on the floor. He’s not just a low-post guy (or) a guy on the wing. He can bring it up, too. We’re comfortable with that. We run offense through KJ, when he can get it initiated, so we’re used to that.

“We knew they were trying to take away me, Dajuan (Harris) and Elmarko (when) bringing it up and trying to pressure. So we gave it to KJ and it worked out for us.”

It’s a position Adams is comfortable being in.

“I can handle the ball; I just haven’t had to do it much because you have people like Dajuan and Kevin to bring up the ball,” he said. “They were daring me to bring up the ball, and I just felt like I was a little bit quicker or faster than a lot of the guys that were guarding me. So that led to some easy transition buckets.”

Kansas coach Bill Self was also impressed with Adams’ ball handling.

Well, for the most part.

“He made the one real bad pass in transition when he overthrew Dajuan when we had control and all that stuff, but (his ball handling) is about as good as anybody’s,” Self said. “He’s done a good job. And for a four-man to get five assists, even though he had five turnovers, that’s pretty good.”

Adams is going through one of the best offensive stretches of his Kansas career. His offensive rating, true shooting percentage, assist rate and turnover rate are all currently career-best marks, according to KenPom.

But what does Self think?

“I thought he’s been our best player the last three games or whatnot.”



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