SSN Girls Basketball Player of the Year: Destiny Adams, Manchester
The appeal was made out of necessity, delicately broached to one of the premier players in New Jersey who earned such status largely based on her offensive versatility. A few of the attractive features that put Destiny Adams in such esteemed company would have to be tabled this season for the sake of addressing a bigger concern facing Manchester.
The Hawks were rich on guards capable of attacking from all angles and firing from distance, two elements Adams is particularly adept at. Where they were short - both literally and collectively - was in the post, a void coincidentally left when Destiny’s older sister Dakota graduated in the spring of ‘19.
“Dakota gave us the luxury of a quality frontcourt player, so we were able to use Destiny’s skill set on the outside as a mismatch,” said Manchester coach Dave Beauchemin. “Coming into this year, graduating that size, it became a necessity for us to play her inside. It's what we needed.”
Beauchemin approached his 6-3 standout and asked her to conduct her work almost exclusively in the paint for her junior year. The request was significant when considering a highly-regarded recruit accepting limitations at a time when showcasing strengths would only improve her stock in the eyes of college coaches.
There might not be an “I” in team but one resides in the middle of Destiny and it stands for influential, integrity and impossible when it came to containing her. .
Adams found a different way to impress those monitoring her actions. She stepped up to accept the circumstances without hesitation. She embraced a more refined role, met the demands of being a dominant force under the basket and epitomized what both a leader and teammate are defined by on her way to being named the Shore Sports Network Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
A year after sinking 48 3-pointers and averaging 14.7 points a night, Adams drained only 16 jumpers from beyond the arc yet her proximity to the rim, coupled with her usual size advantage on the interior, saw her scoring rate climb to 18.0 a game.
Where her impact was even more prolific came under the boards. Adams, who cleared seven rebounds a contest as a sophomore, ripped down 11.7 this winter, averaging a double-double. More importantly, her willingness to sacrifice other notable dynamics that substantiate her offensive balance for the good of the program enabled Manchester to maintain its place among the state’s elite teams.
The Hawks (28-4) claimed their third straight B South division title, navigated their way back to defend the Shore Conference Tournament title, bowing to top-seeded St. John Vianney, 57-50, in the championship, and recovered from the defeat to win a fourth consecutive South Jersey, Group 2 crown. A 58-38 triumph over Manasquan in the state semifinals had Manchester positioned for a second consecutive Group 2 trophy but the COVID-19 outbreak forced the cancellation of the remainder of the state tournament, abruptly bringing the season to an unfortunate close.
“It was kind of an easy transition,” said Adams, who, in addition to her aforementioned contributions, added 1.8 assists, 2.4 steals as well as 2.4 blocks per game to confirm just how well rounded her game is. “If I flashed outside and was open, I’d shoot it but when I was down low, I took advantage of my new part in the offense.”
How impactful was Adams? In 32 games, she registered 17 double-doubles despite playing limited minutes in a number of lopsided triumphs. She turned up especially when the competition was fiercest.
Against a ramped-up schedule that included meetings with a number of nationally-prominent opponents, Adams met the challenge head on. She struck for 23 points and 16 boards in a loss to Monteverde (Fla.), went for 20 and 23 in a setback to state powerhouse Trenton Catholic, tagged Red Bank Catholic for 22 and 19 in a semifinal triumph during the SCT despite being the subject of a diamond-and-one defense and collected 21 and 23 when the Hawks topped Middle Twp. for the South Jersey sectional championship.
Already a force on the glass, Adams pays some of the credit for her interior excellence to what she did in the fall.
“Volleyball helped me this year,” admitted Adams, who has to be a frightening image to see from the other side of the net when she elevates and primes to hammer a spike in the fall. “We don't have a big team. If I’m not getting rebounds, there was a concern about who was. I found myself jumping a little higher and getting more rebounds thanks to playing volleyball. I really liked it.”
Adams had plenty of verified resources to seek and work out against in order to raise her post profile just in her household alone. Besides some backyard battles with her sister, she also toiled against her accomplished dad, Dennis, a former Hawk star himself who went on to shine at Muhlenberg, where he was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2005 and is now the principal at Manchester.
“He has been my No. 1 coach since second grade,” said Adams. “He never took it easy on me. He pushed me to make me better. I still work out with him.”
Beyond everything Adams can do on the court, what her coach admired most this year was her flexibility, to adapt to a different responsibility and thrive within it while showing a talented group loaded with gifted underclassmen that sacrifce is an admirable trait. And, that no part, no matter how high their profile, is larger than the sum of the whole.
"Destiny can play every position," said Beauchemin. "She played on the wing for her freshman and sophomore seasons and went deep inside this year. I needed to place kids where their strengths would best serve the team. She fit right into that just like she fit into becoming a leader."