By Scott Eddy, Director of Athletics Communications
After recording one of the best performances in Reilly Center history, pouring in 44 points by way of an amazing shooting performance where the term "in the gym range" sounded quite accurate, Jaylen Adams was modest in describing his effort.
"I was just trying to take good shots and let the game come to me," he said in post-game on Feb. 7. "I just tried to let the game come to me and not force a lot of shots."
It might be the only time the work of Adams has been understated the past four years.
Longtime Bonnies fans know they've been witnessing something special – and most of them knew it from the time Adams debuted as a freshman a nearly unfathomable three-and-a-half years ago.
Sure, the back-to-back 40-point showings Adams registered earlier this month – 40 points at Duquesne on Feb. 3 followed by the 44 points powered by a school-record 10 three-pointers just four days later – were jaw-dropping. But they were just the latest chapter in what will go down as one of the best careers in Bona basketball history.
Now the owner of the program's record for three-pointers in a game, he already grabbed the single-game records for assists (14, twice) and ranks second in career threes (258), third in assists (558), ninth in steals (161) and first in free throws made (539).
Not that Adams is ready to talk about his career in past tense just yet.
"I want to get to the NCAA Tournament," he affirms. "That's been the goal for me since day one and I think with this team it is very possible. We are capable of doing it."
Such a finish to his career would be fitting considering his tenure at St. Bonaventure.
Adams' rise to be the highest scoring guard in program history came as a bit of a surprise. He was not on the radar of many teams coming out of Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore and he originally committed to Jacksonville of the Atlantic Sun Conference in fall 2013. He chose Jacksonville over Mount St. Mary's after getting looks from LIU-Brooklyn, Quinnipiac and Fairfield.
But a coaching change at Jacksonville made Adams re-open his recruiting process, ultimately leading him to the Enchanted Mountains. At that time, more schools showed interest – though most were of the low-major variety. He became the fifth member of the Bonnies' 2014 recruiting class with his commitment that spring, and though his arrival brought excitement, few could have predicted what was to come.
Right away, he was handed the keys to the Bonnies offense, gaining the type of trust from head coach Mark Schmidt seldom seen by freshmen. He started 22 games in 2014-15, averaging 10.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists before missing the final nine games that year with a broken ring finger on his right hand.
Sports Illustrated named him one of its "10 most surprising players" of the 2015-16 season, but by then most Bona faithful knew they had something special. He was named All-Atlantic 10 First Team after that year, and followed that up by being the only NCAA Division I player to rank in the top 25 nationally in scoring and top 10 in assists as a junior.
He collected a nearly never-ending list of preseason awards during the summer, among them being named to the Watch List for the Oscar Robinson Award as national player of the year, Bob Cousy Award as the nation's best point guard as well as NBC Sports A-10 Preseason Player of the Year. He tested the NBA Draft waters, but returned for his senior season.
And it has been one to remember.
After missing the first six games due to an ankle injury suffered in the team's exhibition game, Adams has been spectacular. He leads the league in three-point percentage and treys made, ranks third in both scoring and assists and stands second in the nation in three-point percentage as well.
"Jay lets the game come to him. You put the ball in your best player's hands and you have confidence that he will make a play and he's been able to do that," Schmidt says. "When his shot is going, that opens up penetration and it makes him so difficult to guard."
Now when Adams puts his name in the same breath as those such as Lanier and Stith, like he did when he became the first Bonnie to post 40 back-to-back since those two greats of the program, it now comes as no surprise. With 1,800 career points under his belt, he ranks sixth in all-time Bona scoring and recently passed Marques Green as the top scoring guard to wear Brown and White. In the Feb. 21 win over Duquesne, he passed another program great, Essie Hollis in the Bona record books.
The modest expectations that accompanied him when he first stepped on campus seem like a long time ago.
"I think at the end of the day it has been my maturity that has taken my game to new levels," he said. "I've been playing a lot since my freshman year and I've gotten a lot more mature and comfortable in spots."
Bonnies fans have grown comfortable watching Adams light up The RC scoreboard, and it is possible they will one day soon watch him in NBA arenas. While working in front of NBA scouts this past summer, he took some important advice.
"They told me to keep doing what I am doing. That's why I came back to school," he said. "They told me I was on the right path."
It's a path that hasn't always taken the expected route, but one that Bonnies fans won't soon forget.