It’s been nearly two weeks since Kansas junior men’s basketball forward KJ Adams’ mom, Yvonne, died following a long bout against cancer.
The Jayhawks have played four games since the former Texas A&M women’s basketball star’s passing, with KJ starting each game and helping the team earn three victories in that span.
KU coach Bill Self on Wednesday was asked how KJ is coping in the wake of his mom’s death on Nov. 17.
“I think he’s doing very well considering, but I don’t think it’s hit him yet. He’s been so busy and had so many people around … he’s told me it hasn’t hit him yet,” Self said Wednesday on the coach’s weekly Hawk Talk radio show.
“He is totally gassed. He hasn’t slept at all and I’ve been instructed to treat him just like I would treat him any other time — be sympathetic but also he doesn’t need to be coddled to the point where he’s not doing what he needs to be doing. We’ve tried to do that.
“KJ is a young person but he’s responded like a man. I think he’s doing very well. I think he feels a lot of support and love from people, not only close to him but from the community here and the campus,” Self added.
That love and support surfaced at Tuesday’s KU-Eastern Illinois game at Allen Fieldhouse. There was a moment of silence for Yvonne with a picture of her hugging her son appearing on the video board before the contest. Additionally, The University Daily Kansan’s traditional game-day newspaper spread was a tribute to Yvonne Elise Adams.
“I thought it was a nice tribute for Yvonne,” Self said, noting KJ told his coach he greatly appreciated the gestures of support from the athletic department, student body and fans who stood in honor of his mom.
This will be an especially emotional weekend coming up for Adams.
First, No 5-ranked KU (6-1) will play host to No. 4 UConn (7-0) at 8 p.m., Friday at Allen Fieldhouse. Yvonne’s funeral service is set for 1 p.m., Saturday, in Austin, Texas.
“Saturday will be a hard day. He is going to play the game Friday then immediately fly out after the game to go be home for for the services,” Self explained on Hawk Talk. “We’ll fly down as many as we can on Saturday morning. That’ll be hard (on KJ). It’ll reach a point in time there’s a dip and then (he’s) got to be built back up again.”
Self’s dad, Bill, Sr., passed away in January of the 2021-22 season.
“I’ve been through it. We’ve all been through it at some point in time,” Self said. “The thing about his situation that makes it more difficult for him is his mother had been struggling a long time, but he didn’t know everything about how much she’d been struggling because he wasn’t there.
“When you have family members there every day and the finality occurs sometimes you can take the approach that there’s no more suffering. It was harder for KJ to take that approach because he didn’t see it daily. It was an immediate tragedy,” Self added. “He’s learning and growing and all that stuff. He’s been fantastic. It’s not going to be an easy time for him.
“I do know the youngster (KJ). I did know his mother. She wanted him to do so well so bad and she wanted him to fight and be tough and be competitive so bad I know however he’s been to this point he’s going to take it to a whole new level.”
Will Castle return for UConn?
UConn, which has already defeated Indiana (77-57) and Texas (81-71) en route to a 7-0 start could receive a boost in personnel on Friday at KU.
Stephon Castle, a 6-6 freshman guard from Covington, Georgia and the Big East preseason freshman of the year, has missed the last five games with a knee injury. He put up shots before Monday’s home victory over New Hampshire, coach Dan Hurley told the Hartford Courant.
“Right nowm Steph is crushing the bike. He’s going to get an NIL deal with Pelaton or something,’” Hurley said jokingly to the Courant. “It’s a two to four week injury and depending how the recovery goes week two would be in and around the Kansas game and as you head into week three, it’s Carolina at the Garden. It just depends on how the healing goes and how the medical stuff goes.”
The Huskies also play Gonzaga on Dec. 15 in Seattle.
Freshman Solomon Ball, who has replaced Castle in the lineup, has averaged 6.0 points a game with seven assists to three turnovers. He’s just 6-of-29 from 3 for 20.7%. Overll he’s made 16 of 50 shots for 30.2%.