Time to feed the beast: Bam Adebayo


Kentucky Wildcats forward Bam Adebayo #3 dunks the ball during the Wildcats game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Rupp Arena on January 21, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky.

Chris Angolia

In the shadow of what may very well be the best backcourt in America, freshman big-man Bam Adebayo is quietly becoming the beast that many had envisioned he would be when he first came to the University of Kentucky.

Although he is yet to have a monster game on both ends of the floor, Adebayo has been a steady presence for the Cats down low. Averaging 12.8 points per game and grabbing 7.2 rebounds per game, Adebayo does not have the most earth-shattering numbers, but the theme of steady play has best described his season up to this point, even with limited touches.

Perhaps the biggest thing that Adebayo has dealt with all season is the limited amount of times he has been getting the ball on offense. It is obvious that when he does get his hands on the ball, he produces and coach John Calipari knows it.

“I told Bam after the game, you’re too nice,” Calipari said after the game Saturday. “I said, ‘I would strangle a couple of these guys that aren’t throwing you the ball. If I was you, I would. You’re so nice, you don’t say anything.’ And we’re throwing him the ball, but it’s like it’s forced. It shouldn’t be forced, he’s that good. I even said, ‘Is he selfish?’ They said, ‘No, he’s not selfish.’ Well, then throw him the ball. And if he’s double teamed he gives it back to you.”

Getting Adebayo more touches is something that the Cats need to consider simply based on the attention that teams pay to him even when he is not putting up crazy numbers. On Saturday against South Carolina, Adebayo was doubled nearly every time he touched the ball. As teams have tried to double the big man, he has made them pay with both his passing and ability to fight through them. 

It has been evident that Adebayo may very well have the most upside of anyone on UK, and he will only continue to grow and learn how to use his freakishly athletic frame and that alone should be a good enough reason to get him more touches. Not only that, but as seen last season, the lack of post presence proved to be deadly for UK, and this year Adebayo is that guy and his continued growth has somewhat been handicapped by his lack of touches. 

Now, even with the lack of touches, Adebayo had scored in double figures in 14 straight games up until the Mississippi State game this past Tuesday, and 16 of UK’s 19 games overall. His biggest performance came against then No. 11 UCLA with 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Adebayo equaled that scoring performance against South Carolina, but he only grabbed three boards in the win.

His scoring has not been the most conventional either, as Adebayo has done most of his scoring from the freethrow line and as a big man, a 61 percent stroke from the line has helped UK. With Adebayo struggling at the beginning of the year from the line, many were concerned, but Adebayo has put in countless hours to improve his free throw shooting that has been a big part of his evolution.

With his production at such a high level when the ball is in his hands, it is clear that the only thing standing between a monster rest of the season for Adebayo is the lack of touches, and it may be time for the Cats to feed the beast.