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Baltimore native Jaylen Adams credits his growth into a NBA player for the Atlanta Hawks to the city he grew up in.
Adams signed a multi-year NBA deal with the Hawks Feb. 20 after averaging 1.3 points in 10 games with Atlanta. He previously signed a two-way contract in the offseason, which meant he could have spent up to 45 days in the NBA while the remainder of the season was in the G League, the NBA's developmental circuit.
Adams attended Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore, a local basketball powerhouse. Mount Saint Joseph won the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference and Baltimore Catholic League championships in 2014 with Adams, Villanova star Phil Booth and Towson guard Jordan McNeil leading the way. The Gaels went 34-5 during the 2013-14 season.
"Just growing up playing AAU and playing in high school, it's so competitive and has led to this point," Adams said on
Glenn Clark Radio Feb. 22. "The nature of the city just creates those tough guys."
The 6-foot-2 guard played at St. Bonaventure from 2014-2018. He averaged 19.1 points, 5.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game as a senior, all team highs, while playing 37 minutes per contest. Adams was named the Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Year and an honorable mention All-American for his efforts during the 2017-18 season.
He also played a leading role in the team's first NCAA Tournament win in 48 years last March against UCLA. Adams hit just two shots all day, but one of them gave the Bonnies a 60-58 lead with 49.1 seconds to play, a lead they would not relinquish.
But Adams went undrafted and signed the two-way deal with the Hawks in June. He averaged 15.8 points and 6.3 assists in 19 games with the Erie BayHawks of the G League. The Hawks signed Adams to an NBA deal after waiving guard Jeremy Lin.
"It just feels good to be able to start fresh and just have somebody believe in you and give you a chance," he said. "It's a new beginning."
Adams has averaged 3.0 points, 2.3 assists and 1.7 rebounds in more than 12 minutes per game while shooting 50 percent from the field in the three games since signing the new deal. Adams is the backup point guard to rookie Trae Young, who scored 36 points and added eight assists in a loss to the Houston Rockets Feb. 25.
"There's a bunch of young talent on the team that is actually starting to come together," Adams said. "To be a part of it is special and I'm extremely thankful to be given the opportunity."
Adams said it's not quite as daunting defending the biggest icons in the game with a teammate like eight-time All-Star Vince Carter around.
"I grew up watching [Carter] when I was a kid, and he did some amazing things. Being his teammate now is definitely crazy," Adams said. "The craziest thing is that you realize these are just regular people."
Even so, the Atlanta guard said he won't take this chance for granted.
"Everybody is the best at this point. You have to come ready every single night," Adams said. "There's only a certain number of spots, so you have to understand that you need to bring it every single day. It's a job now."
For more from Adams, listen to the full interview here: