Former Morgan State women's basketball star Corin "Tiny" Adams, whose 2,058 career points with the Bears are the most among men and women at the school, completed her seventh season playing overseas this spring after a successful season with Panathinaikos Athens. The team finished third in Greece's A1 national women's basketball league during the 2016-17 season.
Primarily a pick-and-roll style point guard, the 5-foot-7 Adams averaged 11.5 points, 4.3 assists, 3.7 defensive rebounds and 3.1 steals per game with Panathinaikos this season.
For Adams, 28, it was a long, winding road to Greece, which she described as a "great experience" and said she "felt like a real, real pro for the first time" thanks, in part, to Panathinaikos' professional staff.
Playing overseas has presented unique opportunities for Adams, such as exploring Europe with her mother, Gwendolyn, during her teams' winter breaks and experiencing different cultures -- Adams proudly said she's eaten Caracois (Portuguese snail). She's now played in 15 different countries internationally, including 13 in Europe.
But playing overseas wasn't necessarily Adams' first choice. Hailing from Brooklyn, N.Y., Adams averaged 19.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and was named the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year during her senior year at Morgan State in 2009-10. She had hoped to parlay a terrific four-year college career into a shot at a WNBA roster. But that chance evaporated before it ever materialized, a harbinger of the challenges to come overseas.
"[My family] didn't really know how this process worked," Adams said. "We ended up signing with an agent, who at the time was doing great work. But a couple days before the draft, I found out she wasn't certified, and then the teams found out, so they started not to interact with her because she wasn't fully certified yet, so that kind of set me back from the WNBA. … The San Antonio Stars verbally said they would've invited me to training camp if I didn't get drafted. But once all of that happened, that kind of just messed me up."
The next challenge for Adams was getting her foot in the door to play overseas. Adams quickly went through two more agents that she "bumped heads with" when no opportunities overseas surfaced, and she began seeking tryouts on her own.
Beginning in the summer of 2010, Adams represented herself. She started her professional career in August 2010 in Puerto Rico, where she put together the statistics and film necessary to find her way to Portugal for her next stop.
Adams represented herself until 2013 when she conceded that teams in top international leagues weren't going to communicate with her directly. Beyond finding representation and opportunities to her liking, other challenges to playing internationally include getting a full paycheck and getting it in a timely manner, and adjusting to living situations that might not include hot water or a clothes dryer. Adams detailed her experience in her autobiography, "Tiny Setbacks, Major Comebacks: From Brooklyn To Europe." (Available on Amazon as a digital book).
"I just kind of wanted people to learn from my mistakes and avoid all of the heartbreak and stuff that I went through trying to play this professional basketball," Adams said, referring to other athletes who aspire to play overseas. "Becoming a pro, it's kind of hard because it's so many girls. If you say, ‘Hey, I'm [a coach], and I want a point guard, you're going to get about 2,000 players sent to you. … It's a tough thing to get into. But once you're in and you're performing well, everything can kind of work itself out."
Adams is still extremely well-regarded at Morgan State. Brittany Dodson, who played with Adams for three years with the Bears and is now an assistant coach with the program, said Adams is the "epitome" of the kind of person they want their players to become at Morgan State. Dodson also said she makes sure to let recruits know who Adams is and what she means to the university.
Dodson first met Adams when Dodson visited Morgan State as a recruit in 2007. Adams, who was a freshman at the time, challenged her to a pick-up game, which "was definitely a cool experience [on] my first college visit." That was a preview of what was to come when Dodson attended Morgan State, as Adams led hours-long pick-up sessions, was in the gym at odd hours, pushed her teammates in practice and still managed to do well in the classroom.
"I just had a great lead to follow. Like, this is how they do it here, and most of that was attributed to Tiny," Dodson said. "They had a very strong core group that came in with her. They kind of really changed the whole dynamic of the program -- winning seasons and everything. But Tiny was definitely the major part, I believe, in perpetuating the growth of Morgan in general."
Issue 235: July 2017