MANCHESTER – Perhaps you’ve heard the expression, “The apple did not fall from the tree.”
It fits Destiny Adams, the Manchester Township High School girls basketball standout, and her dad, Dennis, who starred in football, basketball and baseball for the Hawks, to a tee.
Destiny Adams, a senior, has earned a full athletic scholarship to play on the women’s team at the University of North Carolina. The forward-center has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete for the Tar Heels.
Dennis Adams, Manchester’s principal, has had a large influence on the career of his daughter, who has scored 1,560 points and grabbed 895 career varsity rebounds. Dennis Adams began coaching his daughter when she was a second-grader at the recreation level. He has also nurtured his protégé at the Amateur Athletic Union level.
“Dad is the number one reason I am as good as I am today,” said Adams, ranked third on the Hawks’ career varsity points list. “If anyone else had taught me, I don’t know where I would be today. Dad expanded my game. I give all of the credit to dad. Between recreation and AAU ball, he has coached me on about 10 teams.”
Lisa Adams, Destiny’s mom, who was a high school girls basketball and softball player in Delaware, has also contributed to Destiny Adams’ success.
“Mom is my number one supporter,” Destiny Adams said. “Nobody else has either supported me more or encouraged me more. She does not bring me down mentally. She does not yell at me. She encourages me to be the better me. Without her support, I don’t know if I would still be playing. I would probably have quit by now.”
The 6-foot-3 Adams was recruited by the Tar Heels as a wing, small forward.
“I will have to work on my shot, my biggest weakness,” she said. “Once I can knock down the three-point shot unconditionally, I will be much better. The wing is my favorite position. In high school, I am the tallest player. I feel I am better at driving to the basket than posting up down low. I feel I am a pretty decent defender. My feet can be faster. In college, going against players who are either my height or taller will be a big eye opener. They will be physically faster and stronger and that will push me to the next level as a player.”
Adams enters this season ranked 20th in the nation overall and fourth at her position by ESPN.
“I feel blessed,” she said. “It is not very easy to be ranked at all, as it is hard for the people who rank the players to see everyone. It’s crazy. I am just glad I am even in the top 100. I don’t think about it that often. I just play my game. I go out there and play how I play. If people don’t feel I deserve the rankings, then that’s on them.”
Adams said her comfort with the coaching staff was a key reason for her decision.
“I chose the school mainly because of the coaching staff,” she said. “It’s hard for me to become comfortable with somebody, but I could tell that the staff cared more for me as a person than a basketball player. When I visited the school, it felt like home. As soon as I set foot on campus, it felt like home. It’s not too far from home, which is what I really wanted. I like the atmosphere. The girls on the team interacted like we were all best friends. It’s a family-based school. It’s not just about basketball.”
Adams paid her first visit to the Chapel Hill school in November of her sophomore year. She visited the school three times overall before signing her NLI. She was first contacted by the Tar Heels near the end of her freshman year. She chose the Tar Heels over some 30 schools, including Georgia, North Carolina State, Michigan, West Virginia and Arizona.
“It was hard to cut it down,” she said. “While I signed my NLI, my thoughts were that it was a dream come true and that I am extremely blessed. I always wanted to go (NCAA) Division I and to make it official is a dream come true. I was awarded a God-given talent to pursue it and make my family proud.”
Adams had mixed emotions about the recruiting process.
“It was exciting, but very overwhelming,” she said. “It was a lot to handle. I had to list what I wanted in a school and what I did not want in a school. Telling schools, ‘No,’ made me feel bad, but it’s nice to feel wanted. It was a great process. I did not choose a school based on its name. Don’t pick a school because it sounds cool or because your friends will think it’s cool or because it has a big name.”
Adams spoke to numerous coaches during the process.
“I asked them about their approach and their coaching style,” she said. “After Sept. 1 of your junior year, they can begin calling and texting you. I received a lot of calls and I had to list everyone who called. I told each school that they could only talk to me on Wednesday and Sunday so that they would not be blowing up my phone all during the week.”
Manchester coach Dave Beauchemin said he is impressed with Adams’ decision.
“It is an unbelievable opportunity,” he said. “She will continue to showcase her talents on a grand stage. She is so versatile. She plays all over the court for us based on her ability and necessity. This opportunity will give her the chance to hone in on a position. She does a lot of low post work for us because she can. She just has to continue to improve on every aspect of her game. There is so much more she can get for herself once she is in that environment every single day.”
Adams’ possible majors are either African-American Studies or Gender Equality.
“I am really into that stuff,” the A and B student said. “I don’t have to declare my major until the end of my sophomore year.”
Adams lives by a simple motto.
“It’s, ‘Everything happens for a reason,’ ” she said. “For a couple of years, I have really believed that. I just go with the flow and stay positive.”
With Adams in the lineup, the Hawks own an 86-12 three-year record. They have won two NJSIAA Group II state titles, three South Jersey Group II crowns, one Shore Conference Tournament championship, three Class B South titles and three WOBM Christmas Classic crowns.
She averaged 15.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game as a freshman, 15.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a sophomore when she paced the Hawks (32-3) to a school single-season wins record and 18.1 points and 11.7 rebounds per outing as a junior. She has scrapped for 203 steals, and added 224 blocks, 212 assists and 91 three-pointers in her career.
Adams trains at the Hoop Group in Neptune under Tiny Green and at I’m Possible in Colts Neck under Ryan Daly.
“Basketball is just fun,” said Adams, who has done volunteer work at the Harmony Ministries Church in Lakehurst and at a soup kitchen in Toms River. “I have accomplished things that a lot of people have not been able to. I’m hoping to score 2,000 career points at Manchester. That would be a great accomplishment for me. It’s not just about me. I have had some real talented teammates who helped me bring Manchester this great run.”