Men’s Basketball: Adams comes to Pitt with experience, volcano

By Lauren Kirschman

Five minutes into Pitt’s Blue-Gold scrimmage, Chase Adams introduced himself to Panther fans… Five minutes into Pitt’s Blue-Gold scrimmage, Chase Adams introduced himself to Panther fans by draining a 3-pointer off an assist from Travon Woodall.

Nineteen points later, Pitt followers definitely knew the newcomer’s name.

A transfer student from Centenary College in Louisiana, Adams joins Jermaine Dixon to form a senior class with one combined year of playing experience at Pitt.

Adams, who will begin and end his career as a Panther this season, can play immediately because Centenary dropped from NCAA Division I to Division III non-scholarship status.

Despite being a newcomer to the Pitt uniform, Adams, a 5-foot-10-inch guard, brings valuable floor experience to a Pitt team that includes four true freshmen and two redshirt freshmen.

He played every game in both his sophomore and junior seasons at Centenary, starting in 29 of 31 games each year. He started in 19 of 31 games during his freshman season.

With Dixon sitting out because of foot surgery, Adams said he wants to take on more of a leadership role for the young Panthers.

“I definitely have to be vocal because Jermaine’s out right now, and he’s our captain,” Adams said. “We just need that kind of leadership. I haven’t played on the Big East level, but I’ve been here before.”

A former point guard at Centenary, Adams said he tries to perform the leadership duties he’s used to, such as getting his teammates to their spots and making sure they understand the coach’s instructions.

“Jermaine and Brad [Wanamaker] are definitely the head honchos of the team,” Adams said. “I’m more silent than vocal, but if they need me to say something, I will.”

Centenary head coach Greg Gary said he wanted Adams to become a more vocal leader while playing with the Centenary Gentlemen, but added that Adams naturally led the team because he was the point guard.

“Sometimes, it’s difficult being a leader and having the spotlight on you,” Adams said. “But the guys are very receptive to what I’ve been saying and respecting me more. We’re making big changes and big moves toward being a better team.”

The transition from Centenary to Pitt has been smooth, Adams said, and he owes much of that to the welcome he received from his teammates.

Gary added that Adams excels at socializing because his outgoing and positive personality helps him to interact with people he doesn’t know.

“These guys have a great chemistry,” Adams said. “They really took me under their wing and showed me how things are done. They are like a family to me.”

Adams said he also enjoys the experience of living in Pittsburgh.

“I love the weather, even though it’s cloudy all the time,” Adams said. “I didn’t like the heat down there in the South. Also, the Pittsburgh fans and the people are really nice.”

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said the Panthers staff heard about Adams’ situation when they were recruiting another player from his high school, Mount St. Joseph in Baltimore. Adams’ high school coach contacted them and explained the circumstances, Dixon said.

Adams’ situation is interesting because although he is a senior, he is like a freshman in many ways, Dixon said. Though mature as a player and as a person, Adams still has to go through the process of learning a new system.

“Chase came in with a great attitude. He’s open-minded,” Dixon said. “It’s not easy to come into a program after you’ve been somewhere else for three years and then also being eligible to play right away.”

Dixon said it could be difficult for older players to adjust to a new system because they are often set in their ways. But he said Adams understands that the instructions the coaches offer are “little things” and looks at the big picture.

“I told him we are going to coach him in certain areas and help him understand the way we do things and not to get frustrated with that,” Dixon said.

Adams should fit in nicely with Pitt’s traditionally defense-minded teams. He was the Summit League Defensive Player of the Year last season after finishing first in the conference and eighth in the nation with 2.7 steals per game.

“It’s just being tenacious overall,” Adams said. “I feel like I’m hard-nosed and just real tough. A lot of people like to score. I like to stop people.”

Gary said Adams has good strength and quick feet, which help him to excel defensively.

“Very few kids have his energy playing defense,” Gary said. “He thrives on it.”

He finished among conference leaders in several other categories last season, including 11th in scoring (14.6 points per game), third in assists (4.5 assists per game) and second in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.24).

As a junior, he was named an All-Summit League and All-Louisiana State Writers Association honorable mention selection.

Despite being known for his defensive prowess, Adams is a solid addition to the Pitt offense, as well.

He shot nearly 40 percent from the 3-point line during his junior season.

At Centenary, Adams said, he focused more on passing. But since he started playing the two-guard position at Pitt, he said he finds himself with more shooting opportunities.

“I definitely view myself more as a defensive player, but as of lately, I’ve been shooting pretty well, so I felt pretty comfortable shooting,” Adams said. “I’ve been trying to establish myself as an offensive player, as well.”

Besides playing primarily at the two-guard position, Adams also must adjust to Big East conference play — a challenge for which he said he is prepared.

“That’s why I came here,” he said. “I’ve been training hard in the offseason. The guys have really pushed me to reach my potential. I’ve got a strong competitive nature, and it makes me just want to win at all costs.”

Gary said Adams will be able to adjust to playing in the major conference not only because of his competitiveness, but because he’s a senior with plenty of playing experience.

Although the Gentlemen didn’t play in a major conference, Gary said Adams performed well against the many major programs Centenary took on during his three years — programs such as Texas Tech, Louisiana State, Missouri and Texas.

Along with his competitive nature, Adams brings a fun-loving nature to this season’s Panthers squad.

“He’s a great kid with a great personality,” Gary said. “He’s good with kids. Any time we had community service with kids, he was great.”

Adams’ outgoing personality shows itself on YouTube, which contains a mock “Cribs” episode Adams filmed in Hawaii with his Centenary teammates.

Things Adams claims to own in the video: a mansion, a volcano with a spiral staircase inside and the Pacific Ocean, which he bought for a $250 million.

“I was young and dumb,” he said, laughing. “It was on-the-spot kind of thing. We were in Hawaii. It was fun out there. I like goofing off, and I like to have fun with the guys.”

As Panthers fans get to know Adams this season, they should also consider visiting YouTube, on which Adams will introduce them to his playful character — and his volcano.