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Adams looks up to greats

Before Wink Adams was recruited to UNLV, he was a student of the basketball program’s history. He knew all about the great players and teams of the past, and it was his dream to be a part of it.

Now that his final year has arrived, Adams is primed to put the finishing touches on a career that is leaving marks all over the Rebels’ record book.

"Every day I wake up, I can’t believe I’m a senior," he said. "It happened so fast. It seems like I just got here yesterday."

UNLV plays its only exhibition game against Washburn, a Division II school from Topeka, Kan., at 7:30 p.m. today at the Thomas & Mack Center.

An Alumni/Legends Game begins at 6 p.m., and several former Rebels stars will be on hand. It’s a night of reflection, but also a time to look ahead to where Adams might walk among the UNLV greats.

The 6-foot shooting guard from Houston is within range of becoming only the fifth player in school history to score 2,000 career points.

Adams has 1,432 points in three years, ranking 14th on UNLV’s all-time list, one spot behind Larry Johnson, who scored 1,617 from 1989-91.

The four members of the 2,000-point club are Eddie Owens (2,221, 1973-77), Sidney Green (2,073, 1979-83), Stacey Augmon (2,011, 1987-91) and Freddie Banks (2,007, 1983-87).

"I knew the players that came through here and some of the old teams. I figured the record was kind of impossible to reach. … Coming out of high school, 2,000 points seems so impossible," Adams said.

"I think about it. I never expected to be in the category I’m in now. But now that I’m here, I’m definitely going to try to get to the top."

Adams is arguably coach Lon Kruger’s most significant recruit, and he was a driving force for Rebels teams that went a combined 57-15 and won three NCAA Tournament games the past two seasons.

Adams defines dependability. Since the 2005-06 season, Kruger’s second at UNLV, Adams has played in 102 games and has 92 consecutive starts.

"You think about what Wink has contributed, not just in points and assists and wins, but he also establishes a work ethic every day in practice. He’s totally reliable and he loves to compete," Kruger said. "He’s just a coach’s dream in every way.

"I think anytime you have the career he’s had, and end up high on the scoring list and his teams win a lot of games, he certainly will be mentioned in there with the best that’s ever played at UNLV."

Green is one of the program’s greats. He played for coach Jerry Tarkanian and has returned, at Kruger’s request, to work some games on radio and TV this season.

Green said winning is the "first and foremost" requirement to being recognized among the Rebels’ elite.

"We all have watched Wink grow up, and being a senior, he’s going to exemplify the true leadership on this team," Green said. "I know where the program was when he first came in, and where it is now.

"I do see him as one of the great guards to ever walk through this program once it’s said and done, absolutely."

Adams averaged a career-high 16.9 points in 35 games as a junior. If he averages 17 points in 35 games this season, he would finish with 2,027 career points, placing him third all time, just behind Green.

Although Kruger said it’s "difficult to say" how much Adams’ scoring might increase this season, he does expect Adams to reach the 2,000-point mark.

"We’ve got some other guys who can score, which might lead to a little more balanced scoring," Kruger said. "But I don’t see him averaging less (than 16.9), because we want Wink to stay aggressive to score. That’s what he does best."

Adams said his primary goal is to help UNLV win NCAA Tournament games in March, because that’s the best way to make history.

"That’s what we’ve been shooting for — making it to the tournament every year — and hopefully we can go in this year and make a lot of noise. I think we’ve got all the pieces that we need," he said.

"Every year, my role on this team is to be more of a scorer. I guess 2,000 points is possible because I’m not too far from it. The whole thing is, I don’t really change what I’m doing. What I’ve been doing has been successful."

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907.

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