FREDERICK -- Frederick's Lucas Adams lives a basketball realm the average fan can't see and many rarely care to.
The Warriors' senior point guard knows his basketball life won't last forever. To him, basketball's true worth lies not in sneakers and shots, rejections and rebounds. Adams sees James Naismith's invention as a tool to teach himself leadership, teamwork, relationship, faith, compassion and other skills for life after basketball ends.
"You hear it all the time, that basketball's just a game. For me, it's more than a game," Adams said. "It's not just bouncing a ball and it's not just pass, shoot, dribble, triple-threat. It teaches you so many life lessons that really reflect on how you act off the court."
Both basketball players, Adam's father Terry Adams, a scrappy high school sixth man growing up in Mitchell, S.D., and his grandfather Tony Adams, who passed away during the fall of Adams' freshman year at Frederick, are his heroes. Adams carries his grandfather's initials T.A., and also his memory, on the heels of his game shoes.
Adams has initials scrawled in faded and scuffed Sharpie marker all over the backs of his shoes: J.M. for Jordan McMullen, a 16-year-old classmate who committed suicide in November; C.F. for Carlos Flores, a 2011 Frederick graduate who was paralyzed in a car accident; T.H. for Tyler Hoog, the Skyline High School student and former baseball teammate of Adams' who was paralyzed from the shoulders down in a 2012 four-wheeling accident.
Also scrawled on the Warriors point guard's shoes is the Bible verse "1 Corinthians 10:31": "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
Before every game he gives his heels a tap to find the motivation to play hard and to remind him to play every game like it is his last.
"I always have them with me on the court and it gives me something to play for," Adams said. "My grandfather's not with us anymore but every night I try to go out and make him proud. These kids, they can't play or they've passed away. It just gives me more motivation to play."
Like his father, who wasn't a big scorer, Adams tries to focus on little things like hustle and decision-making. Although he's third in Class 4A with 5.8 assists per game and averages 11.4 points per game, Adams said his favorite plays are charges and fighting for loose balls.
Reckless with the ball as a younger player, Adams has since learned the value of passing up an attempt at a big play to avoid risking a turnover. As a senior for Frederick, he currently owns a 2.42 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio. His leadership has guided the Warriors to a 10-6 season record and 5-3 mark in the competitive Tri-Valley League.
That same leadership ability and knowledge of the game were major factors in Adams' recruitment to play for head coach Mike Moskowitz at Western State Colorado University next year. Moskowitz said Adams' skill is obvious but his character and leadership ability are difficult qualities to find, in basketball or otherwise, that endear players to coaches.
"After meeting Lucas, you could tell that he's a high quality person," Moskowitz said. "He's someone you'd want in your program and his skills speak for themselves."
Adams also is a leader at Frederick High, where he's known as the Rowdy Crowd leader for organizing support for the football team in fall. But every leader needs a stage and Adams' is the basketball court.
Warriors head coach Larry Frank said Adams, who has coached the Warriors junior varsity several times during team camp at Western State, has the type of basketball mentality that could make him a good coach some day.
"I think he'd be a great coach," Frank said. "He goes down to see the Gold Crown kids and they love him. He's kind of like the John Elway of Frederick. They watch his games and try to do his moves. He's just a bright young man and he's great in the community."
Adams said he and the Warriors seniors realized recently that they only have about three weeks of prep basketball left together. Adams will continue his career at Western State but no one knows for certain how things will play out there, least of all Adams.
So Adams said there's no taking a night off since he knows he doesn't have many nights left. He'll just keep making the most of each moment as it comes.
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