During his 2018-19 junior season at Caldwell County, Adarius Riley was behind a considerable logjam of talent, and he’d finish as the Tigers’ sixth-best scorer beneath the likes of Derrin Boyd, John Davis, Cayden Fraliex, Tripp Branch and Cole Smiley.
Fast forward to now, and Riley is bound for the University of Pikeville Bears on a men’s basketball scholarship — fresh off of a strong run on the AAU circuit, and a 2019-20 senior season in which he surged as the team’s top scorer (13.1 ppg) at an efficient 54.7% from the floor, 74.2% from the stripe and a surprising 10-for-27 from the arc.
He also averaged 3.9 rebounds per game, showcasing he can be more than a scorer if needed.
“I just keep working on my craft,” he said. “To become a team player. To be a leader.”
Riley spent last summer hoisting shots for WKY Vision (17U) out of Russellville, where — alongside guys like Marquise Parker (Madisonville-North Hopkins), DeMarco Chatman (Franklin-Simpson), Jamarco Mimms (Clarksville High School), Tyler Camplin (Webster County), Benjamin Carroll (Greenwood High School) and Mason Spurbeck (Clarksville High School) — he was able to flash some of his growing and developing skill set.
It’s here, Riley attests, that he started building a desire to play basketball at the next level. During one weekend in Lexington, he averaged more than 18 ppg through an entire session.
And at the Adidas Boys Summer Championships in Birmingham, Alabama (July 11-14, 2019), the 5-11 guard put up 38 points and 16 rebounds in 99 minutes of action over the course of four games in four days, while shooting 45.5% from the floor.
On March 5, his final game in a Tigers uniform, he went 11-for-16 from the floor with 29 points, two 3-pointers and three rebounds, in a heartbreaking 65-59 Second Region Tournament loss to Lyon County.
A week later, the coronavirus was just beginning its grip on the state of Kentucky, and soon, school was canceled.
Riley, however, didn’t stand pat.
“I got my highlights together, and started sending them to all types of schools,” he said. “And Pikeville just gave me the best offer.”
The NAIA Bears of the Mid-South Conference, who went 20-11 in 2019-20, were among several suitors of Riley’s talents, which included Bethany College (Lindsborg, Kansas), Campbellsville University, Lindsey Wilson College, Oakland City University (Indiana) and Greenville University (Illinois).
But Pikeville — and its new head coach in longtime assistant Tigh Compton — had what Riley was looking for in his next step:
“They want me to come compete for time,” he noted. “Get better every day. Go get my spot. The program is great. I’ve just got to keep working when I get there. Just work.”
He’s got orientation on June 20, and his class schedule will reflect a desire to graduate with a degree in sports management. But Riley won’t be moving to the other side of the state until early August.
This will leave him in and around Princeton for most of the summer to keep working on his strengths and weaknesses.
“Attacking people,” Riley claims as a strength. “I’m very versatile. I can shoot, dribble, do the pull-up, attack the basket. Stuff like that. I can do it all.
“I’m just excited.”
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