Blaxers Blog: KJ Adams' Love of Lacrosse Will Never Fade

PHOTO COURTESY OF KJ ADAMS


It’s important to find balance in our lives as we manage goals. When times get difficult, we find outlets to steer us back on our path.

For incoming Kansas basketball star KJ Adams, lacrosse serves as a peaceful outlet that allows him to refocus.

Despite ESPN 100’s index ranking him 47th among 2021 graduates, the 6’7”, power forward from Austin, Texas, turned heads this spring while playing short-stick defense for Westlake High School.

“Lacrosse is my safe spot away from all of the distractions in my life,” Adams said.

Let’s learn how this crossover standout looks to add to his highlight reel.

KJ ADAMS

Hometown: Austin, TX
High School: Westlake

Notable Accolades:

  • 2021 Central Texas All-District, honorable mention (lacrosse)
  • 2020-21 Central Texas Player of the Year (basketball)
  • 2021 American Family Insurance Slam Dunk Champion

CROSSOVER APPEAL

While competing in Austin’s youth soccer scene, Adams took notice of his neighbor, Nick Rightmyer, who constantly played lacrosse. Rightmyer persuaded Adams to pick up a stick as Texas lacrosse began booming.

“For sports, lacrosse was the next hot thing,” Adams said. “While attending private school in Austin, lacrosse was a competitive sport. As a fourth grader, I was always talking to the lacrosse coaches as I was on the field watching the older kids practice and casually shooting on the wall.”

Independently and with limited skills, Adams ditched soccer altogether to focus on being an attackman and midfielder.

“The transition into lacrosse was a natural process as my love of the game grew,” he said. “One of my friends joined me at the field, and we would shoot all day long.”

Adams developed his middle school game while attending St. Stephen’s Episcopal School, as their high school head coach, Noah Fink, invited him to the Spartans’ offseason camps. Fink was also a former MCLA head coach for the Texas Longhorns.

“Coach Fink gave me my first set of equipment that I still wear while playing my heart out,” Adams said. “Through fifth and sixth grade, my friend Carson and I played up on the St. Stephen’s eighth grade team.”

After transferring to St. Andrews Episcopal School, Adams played for the Highlanders from seventh to ninth grade. He decided to take a two-year break from lacrosse to focus solely on his basketball endeavors.

Following the hiatus, Adams competed as a senior short-stick defenseman at Westlake High School while gaining attention as a four-star power forward in basketball.

“Playing basketball can be pressuring sometimes, as people want you to do things to please them,” Adams said. “As I played for fun, there was no pressure in lacrosse, and I wasn’t looking for any offers.”

Due to a deep basketball playoff run, he joined the lacrosse team midway through their season.

“My lacrosse experience at Westlake was frustrating at first because I lost some of my skills during my hiatus,” he said. “I had to find my way and when my lacrosse skills regressed, I became a defensive midfielder.”

He used his size and speed as an advantage against opponents while scoring occasional goals. Adams modelled his game after his favorite player and former crossover athlete Myles Jones.

“It was the best position I could’ve played, and if I picked it up sooner, I would’ve been pretty good and had a chance somewhere for it in college,” he said. “Myles was the only lacrosse player that I studied in-depth because everyone thought I played similarly to him.”

Adams admits that his lacrosse return was a learning experience that helped him improve. He credits his mobility training regimen for enduring both sport seasons.

“I feel like everyone should give lacrosse in Texas a chance as it grows rapidly,” he said.

As time passes, he hopes that more Texas schools install lacrosse into their curriculum, as the state governing body supports the effort.

“Many schools don’t have money to get lacrosse programs, so we play as club teams,” Adams said. “I can’t wait until the UIL makes the switch so we can have official state championships.”

Before graduating, Adams was selected to the Central Texas All-District lacrosse team as an honorable mention.







SON OF A THRILL

Adams’ unbreakable spirit was fostered by his loving and competitive family.

His mother, Yvonne, was a two-time All-Southwest Conference guard at Texas A&M (1989-91) and serves as Director of Equity and Inclusion at St. Stephen’s Episcopal. She encouraged her son to play sports whose skills complemented each other.

His sister, Brittany, was an outside hitter on SMU’s volleyball team (2015-18) who earned All-AAC honors twice.

“From starting practices to tournaments, it takes a winning spirit to earn championships,” Adams said. “You must always have a mentality of beating the No. 1 opponent. My family is a tight-knit group that pushes me to be level-headed and be the best while representing them.”

After receiving his first scholarship offer as an eighth grader, he knew was destined for college basketball. Adams never expected the offer to arrive so soon.

He said that sliding with his lacrosse stick and getting ahead of opponents were important factors into sharpening his defensive skills in basketball.

Following a state championship game loss to Duncanville in March, Adams trained himself to think two steps ahead of future competitors.

“When your confidence is low while shooting, you’re bound to miss,” he said. “Once you get more comfortable with your reps, your confidence soars and shots are automatic.”

His 25-point and 7.5-rebound averages propelled Westlake to a 30-2 finish and led to several Power 5 offers. Only July 31, Adams signed his letter of intent to play big-time basketball at Kansas.

“Academics have always been a challenge for me because I have dyslexia,” Adams said. “I had to work way harder than many students to earn decent grades. Kansas has a great academic system already in place for me and the student-athlete culture is next level. That’s why I chose Kansas over the Texas schools everyone thought I was going to pick. Kansas is the best fit for me, and I believe that this will benefit me in the long run.“

He was later crowned King of the Court at the Morgan Wootten Top 150 showcase in Mansfield, Texas.

During Final Four weekend on CBS, he pulled off an amazing double dunk to win the 2021 American Family Insurance Slam Dunk Championship.

“It was an amazing week for my mom and I as we bonded deeply,” he said. “I got my invitation on a one-day short notice. To come all the way to Indianapolis, it was cool winning it.”

At Kansas, he will continue thrilling crowds in the No. 24 jersey like his mother did.

“Joining a storied program is rewarding,” Adams said. “At Kansas, they set such a high standard due to their basketball alumni, and it forces you to play better. You don’t want to ruin the foundation that they built. You have a chip on your shoulder before stepping on the court.”

While moving on campus, Adams brought his lacrosse stick to help clear his mind with wall ball drills.

“My goal is to become the best person I can on and off the court,” Adams said. “Hard work never goes in vain.”

Adams hopes to make an impactful debut on November 9 against Michigan State at Madison Square Garden.

While the Rock Chalk chants blare loudly and his basketball career blossoms, Adams’ love for lacrosse will never fade.

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