Rice basketball retains a young core, but they’ll miss the leadership of Ako Adams and Robert Martin on and off the court next season.
Year 3 of the Scott Pera era of Rice basketball featured a young team growing into their collective ability. The nucleus of the Owls’ 2019-2020 squad consisted of three sophomore guards: Trey Murphy, Drew Peterson and Chris Mullins. Seniors Ako Adams and Robert Martin were the elder statesmen with some freshman and various role players filling out a developing rotation.
The team felt like a work in progress for much of the season. Yet somehow the tandem of Adams and Martin always seemed to keep them from veering too far off course. Their leadership will be miss even more than their talents on the court.
“The growth that they showed, through everything not being how they wanted it and being perfect, to hang in there and continue to do the right things [was important],” head coach Scott Pera said of his departing senior class.
Although he’d never draw attention to himself, Ako Adams leaves Rice basketball as one of the program’s most decorated players. He finished his career as the all-time program leader in three-point attempts, three points made, free throw percentage and games played. He finished 12th in assists, 17th in three-point field goal percentage and 28th in scoring.
Adams’ ability to understand the rhythm of the offense and flow within it might have been his most impressive skill. He didn’t rack up his record-breaking numbers with sheer volume. He shared the basketball and waited for good shots. All the while he was confident enough to step into big moments. Adams was never afraid to put a shot up from anywhere on the court.
Martin found his home as the Owls’ sixth man, averaging 11.8 points per game off the bench. He shot 34.4 percent from three and finished second on the team with 4.8 defensive rebounds per game.
That duo, along with occasional cameos from Tim Harrison, Addison Owen and Tommy McCarthy formed a senior class that was instrumental to the growth of the Rice basketball program.
“That’s kind of what I told the seniors in the locker room after the [Conference USA Tournament] game. [I told them] how much I appreciated how they helped this program grow,” head coach Scott Pera said. “They were part of the beginning blocks of building this program.”
Pera’s program has continued to take small steps in the right direction. He credits players like Adams and Martin with setting the course for the growing team. Pointed in the right direction, it will be up to their teammates to stay the course. The Rice seniors gave all that they could.