Column: Narbonne’s Marcus Adams Jr. as NBA-ready as any high school star

Marcus Adams Jr. of Narbonne was feeling so good he was telling San Pedro fans to be quiet.
(Craig Weston)

Jumping up and down while waving his arms in excitement, Marcus Adams Jr. is standing in the bleachers at Manhattan Beach Mira Costa High rooting for a Palos Verdes Peninsula basketball player finally seeing action at the end of a rout. The smile on Adams’ face is proof of how much fun he’s having as he supports a friend from his middle school days.

It shows what others keep saying about Adams — he’s a good kid. And there’s much more.

Of all the teenagers playing high school basketball in California this season, the most likely to make it to the NBA one day is Adams, a 6-foot-8 senior at Harbor City Narbonne.

“He’s a kid in a man’s body” is how Narbonne coach Kumase Demesma describes him.

He can dunk, rebound, block shots, make three-pointers plus outmuscle and overpower opponents. He has burst on to the scene. He went overlooked last season while attending a prep school in Corona. He decided to return to Narbonne this season, the school he attended as a freshman and sophomore, and now all those who proudly say, “I’m a City Section graduate” will soon get to stick out their chests and claim Adams as one of them.

The talent is there for all to see. He wants to be a one-and-done college player, then pursue his professional aspirations. His journey has been anything but smooth.


Somebody gave him bad advice on what classes to take at the prep school, forcing him this year to retake those classes online so he could be eligible to play for a college team. He became so fed up with other players being hyped ahead of him that it served as motivation to get into the gym and become a better player.

“I thought I was better than ranked guys who had offers and was determined to work harder,” he said. “I was tired of being underrated.”

Former Narbonne head coach Anthony Hilliard has known about Adams since sixth grade when he was playing at the local YMCA.

“As a freshman, he reminded me as a Paul Pierce-body type,” he said, referring to the Basketball Hall of Famer from Inglewood High. “Pierce had a big body, was a small forward and shot the three well. [Adams has] lost weight, slimmed down and is way more athletic than he was as a freshman.”

Adams’ father, Marcus Sr., played at Compton Dominguez and UNLV and is 6-6. There’s a 15-year-old freshman brother, 6-7 Maximo, who has joined him at Narbonne and looks better than Marcus did as a freshman. Just don’t ask the brothers to play one-on-one.

“We don’t play one-on-one because it gets too physical and we start arguing,” Marcus said.

Demesma said Adams always finishes first in suicide drills, where players are assigned to run during practices for conditioning. He plays with a chip on his shoulder.

“He wants all these things for his future,” Demesma said. “So because of that, we hold him accountable. We remind him of his goals.”

Adams recently looked at some film from his freshman season, when he mostly settled for shooting threes.

“I’m more athletic, I don’t get as tired as I used to, my shooting has improved off the drive,” he said. “Freshman year, I barely went after the basket.”


Watching his emphatic dunks, prolific rebounding and sudden blocks reminds everyone he’s a star in the making. He visited Syracuse earlier in the week and other colleges are expected to enter the recruiting race as he shores up his class requirements. He’s averaging 30 points, 10 rebounds and five assists this season.

“I’m still hungry and not going to stop,” he said.

He’s also the 18-year-old laughing on the bus with teammates and hanging out with friends from his middle school days. He wants to be the City Section player of the year and win his first ring, which would be a City Section Open Division title. The seedings come out Saturday, and Narbonne figures to be seeded No. 1. He’s twice scored 50 points in his high school career. He had 40 points last week against Marine League rival San Pedro.

No one knows what the future has in store for Adams, but it looks promising. And he’s going to have lots of people pointing out he’s a product of City Section basketball.

“I’m very proud,” he said.