For almost two and a half years it was impossible for Orr guard Chase Adams to separate basketball from the sudden death of his older brother Drake.
“It was really devastating,” Adams said. “Some people use that as fuel but I think it put a fault in my game mentally. It took me so long to get over what happened.”
Drake Adams died in mid-January of 2015. Adams was epileptic. He had a seizure in his sleep and died just a few days before his 27th birthday. He was a well-known figure on the area’s basketball scene, Derrick Rose and Jabari Parker’s parents attended his funeral.
Drake Adams was Chase’s friend, his mentor and his coach. He was there throughout Chase’s early rise to prominence.
“Before [Drake] passed away I was on cloud nine,” Adams said. “Everything was just going great. I had an offer from Bradley, was going to USA Basketball camps, I was on the biggest stage.”
Adams entered high school on a tidal wave of hype, specifically a Ball is Life video of his seventh grade highlights that currently has more than 14 million views. He was 4-11 back then and is 5-8 now.
Despite his size, DePaul, Baylor, UIC, Loyola, Detroit and Arizona were all in touch with him freshman year.
Then things changed. Adams wasn’t a bad player his sophomore and junior seasons at Marian Catholic, but he wasn’t what everyone expected him to be. The attention and the colleges went away. Adams says he was still struggling mightily with his brother’s death.
“I used to have really bad breakdowns before games,” Adams said. “It would throw my whole game off. I wouldn’t want to talk to anyone on the court or anywhere.”
[Drake] was such a big part of my success that it was really hard for me to deal with things without him. I looked for answers with a lot of people that didn’t have them. Everything kind of just went down a little bit.”
Adams made changes over the summer. He transferred from Marian Catholic to Orr and started playing with Simeon’s Talen Horton-Tucker on the Team Rose club team.
“[Former Hales basketball stars Jerome Randle and Jamie Adams] both played a big part in helping me get over things,” Adams said. “And the time I spent with [Horton-Tucker] over the summer really helped, I give him a lot of credit for helping me turn things around. When I got to Orr I was locked in and ready and knew what the goal was.”
The first sign that things had changed came against Danville in early December. Adams scored a career-high 37 points.
“I didn’t even know how many points I had after the game,” Adams said. “I was really upset that we lost. I stayed in the locker room a long time because I didn’t want to hear from anybody. I snuck out a back door with an assistant coach.”
That performance wasn’t a one-off. Adams has put up big scoring and assist numbers consistently this season.
“Getting notoriety at a young age can be tough, a lot of people struggle with it,” Adams said. “I never stopped working hard though. I just had to get over a hump mentally after my brother passed.”
This week the work paid off. Adams picked up an offer from UIC.
“I talked with [UIC coach Steve McClain] for two hours [on Tuesday],” Adams said. “I loved everything he had to say. I’m definitely considering UIC seriously.
The offer came almost exactly three years after the death of his brother.
“I just feel so relieved,” Adams said. “Now I can calm down.”Tags: Marian Catholic, Orr