Adams to return, Cats look to be loaded

The deadline for college underclassmen to declare for the NBA Draft has come and gone and Wildcat forward Hassan Adams decided to remain in college. Adams, who could have tested the waters, will stay in school for a final collegiate season.

"He'll be back," confirmed Wildcat assistant Josh Pastner. "That is great news for us."

The fact that Adams is returning is not a surprise to the Wildcat staff as they predicted as much over a month ago. Lute Olson pooled some NBA Scout shortly after the NCAA Tournament and came to the conclusion that the junior forward would not be selected in the first round.

What did come as a bit of a surprise is the fact that Adams did not even put his name in the draft. Most fans and analysts just assumed that he would attend the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp to at least assess his draft status. In fact several publications, including the Charlotte Observer had Adams included in their lists of players who had declared. Adams did indicate before the Illinois game that he might test the waters, but after Olson's investigation he never felt the need.

Adams, an honorable mention All-Conference performer, is coming off a stellar NCAA Tournament where he averaged 16.5 points and 8.3 rebounds a contest. He took the final shot in the Elite Eight loss against Illinois and may feel there is some unfinished business in his college career. Adams has a legitimate shot at being an All-American next season.

"You tell me who is going to guard Hassan next year?" asked Pastner.

Adams may have even loftier goals. While most assumed before the season that Adams was going to jump after his junior season, a close family friend gave us a hint that Adams was looking at the big picture.

"He hasn't really mentioned the draft," said Marlon Morton, Adams' mentor. "He has mentioned that he would like to be the national player of the year."

He went on to say that Hassan told him that the award would only be available after seniors Channing Frye and Salim Stoudamire graduated and Adams became the "go-to" guy.

Chris Rodgers did put his name in the Draft but has not hired an agent. All indications are that he'll be back in Tucson next fall. Apparently Rodgers has already enrolled in summer school classes and has all but decided to return.

"That will give us 14 high level players," Pastner added. "We have 13 scholarship players and Bret Brielmaier. We're deep and we're talented."

With Adams the Wildcats have a chance to be a special team. They lose their top two performers from a year ago, but Adams led the team in scoring his sophomore season and is a better offensive player. Add to that another year of experience to players like Jawann McClellan, Ivan Radenovic and Mustafa Shakur, plus the addition of talented freshmen J.P. Prince, Fendi Onobun and Marcus Williams. If the center position can be shored up with the likes of Kirk Walters, Isaiah Fox and Mohamed Tangara, the Cats can make a run at the Final Four for the second straight year.

"With Hassan coming back I love our roster," Pastner admitted. "We're loaded with guys and we're loaded with talent."

E-mail Brad at bradallis@msn.com

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