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Pair Of Spectacular Freshmen Bolster No. 1 'Cats
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 11/27/2002
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Nov. 27, 2002

By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer

TUCSON, Ariz. - Off the court, Hassan Adams and Andre Iguodala are roommates and best friends. On the court, they are a spectacular pair of freshman forwards who have made an immediate impact for No. 1 Arizona.

"We've had great wing players here," coach Lute Olson said. "But I don't ever recall a year where we brought in two guys who as a combo were better than they are."

Adams is 6-foot-4, Iguodala 6-5. Both are extraordinary leapers.

In the Wildcats' 107-68 season-opening rout of Western Kentucky, Iguodala started, made Arizona's first field goal of the season and finished with 10 points and six rebounds in 21 minutes.

Adams came on in reserve, made 9-of-12 shots and led the team in scoring with 22 points in 17 minutes. Adams' first basket was a move that will undoubtedly be his signature, a one-handed slam on a lob from Jason Gardner.

Both are quick, long and agile, a perfect fit for the wall-to-wall pressure defense that Olson is employing.

"They bring a lot of energy and athleticism," teammate Luke Walton said, "just pure ability. They're great for what we're doing with this press."

Adams and Iguodala are the two best athletes on the team, Walton said.

"They both jump out of the gym. They both like playing defense," he said. "And they're all about the team right now."

Adams, from Los Angeles, and Iguodala, from Springfield, Ill., became friends at the Nike camp in the summer of 2001, when both were among the most recruited high school players in the country.

Adams immediately fell in love with the Arizona program.

"It was all about winning to me," Adams said. "When I came to visit, the team just seemed perfect. Everybody got along. They were like a family."

Iguodala liked Arizona, too. But under pressure from his family, he signed with Arkansas. However, when Nolan Richardson was forced out as Razorbacks coach, Iguodala was freed from his commitment.

"As soon as coach Richardson left, I knew I was going to Arizona," Iguodala said.

They came to a program already loaded with talent. Gardner and Walton are preseason all-Americans as seniors. Rick Anderson is another seasoned senior starter.

There also are five sophomores who were part of the rotation a year ago, and gained even more experience in the team's summer tour of Australia.

Still, Adams and Iguodala were good enough that it is no surprise to Olson that they have come in and made such an immediate impression.

They have opposite personalities. Iguodala is the quiet one.

"Hassan, he talks a lot," Iguodala said with a shy grin.

Despite their big reputations, they lack anything resembling a me-first attitude, even though they would be high-scoring stars in a lesser program.

"A lot of people tell me I could go score 30 somewhere else, but coach Olson can make me a better player, and a better person," Adams said.

Besides, a national championship outweighs any personal goals.

"That's what I want," Adams said. "It's good to get that 30 points here and there, but if you get that ring, it really doesn't matter how many points you score."

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