BOONVILLE ó Andre Adkins is a good illustration of what a person can achieve with some hard work.
The Adirondack Central senior forward basketball player once was a kid who only came off the bench to give the starters a breather, and not too much more.
He was shy, quiet and certainly not a player that the team could look to in a pinch to drain a big shot or carry the team to victory.
How times have changed.
Wildcats longtime coach Nick Palczak remembers those days from his bashful player, but now cannot think about going into a game without Adkins, who is leading the team in scoring, rebounding, steals, and is a major reason as to why these ĎCats are clawing at trying to win a Section III Class B title as they prepare to open the first-round of the postseason tonight on their home floor against No. 10 seed Ilion.
The seventh-ranked Wildcats finished the regular season at 11-7 overall.
Palczak said that Adkins was just a raw talent when he first came to him in the ninth grade, but now has really come into his own this season while developing into a team leader.
"He was a ninth-grader who didnít play a lick on JVs," Palczak recalls. "He came from the bottom of the list on the JV team, to a league all-star," he said. "Itís been a lot of hard work for him and gaining of his confidence. Heís probably the best athlete in the school. Heís a state-ranked pole vaulter (top ten in the state last year), and really learned how to use this athletic ability just by gaining confidence. Heís come to be a real confident, athletic player," added Palczak.
As their first-round sectional game begins tonight, itís fitting that it was these same playoffs last season that Adkins began his surge at the varsity level. He averaged only six points per game in a limited play during the regular season before he averaged a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds per game in their two postseason games.
Adkins big varsity break out game was in the sectional semifinals against Mount Markham, a game that the Wildcats lost 56-53, but not because of a lack of effort from Adkins, who went for eight points, 11 rebounds and two steals, and had his first varsity slam dunk in a game.
"That really started him on to start the season that he is having right now. Just something clicked to where he found out what he had athletically to where he could dominate games if he wanted to because of his athleticism," Palczak said.
Athleticism that has carried over into this season.
"I started off strong this year, my defense has always been there but Iím just trying to get better and help my team get wins," Adkins said.
"I feel good about myself, because I didnít hear that I was a leader very often before this season, so it makes me feel good about myself and it feels good to be a leader," added Adkins.
For the rest of this story head over to the Rome Sentinel.