Basketball player

Adonis Arms’ journey from rarely played Desert Vista basketball player to shocking No. 1 Baylor

Former Phoenix Desert Vista High School basketball coach Tony Darden admits he missed Adonis Arms when he played for the Thunder.

“To be honest, I missed the kid,” Darden said. “Sometimes as coaches you miss a guy.”

This week, Arms became a social media sensation after scoring 14 points, grabbing nine rebounds and providing five assists in Texas Tech’s shock 65-62 victory at No. 1 Baylor, ending the streak of 21 consecutive victories of the defending national champions.

It was his spin move and dunk with less than two minutes left that went viral.

Arms’ performance to boost No. 19 Texas Tech has many wondering where he came from.

His basketball journey started in Milwaukee and then took him to Phoenix in sixth grade. He played club ball, but as a junior at Desert Vista he was about 6 feet tall and didn’t go to college. He was part of the JV team. It was the year Brandon Clarke, now in the NBA, led Desert Vista to the state finals, before losing to then-rookie Marvin Bagley III and Tempe Corona del Sol.

The following year, while a senior, in 2015-16, Arms was in college but never started and appeared in 17 games, averaging 2.7 points, 1.6 rebounds and 0.5 assists for the Thunder 14-13.

He had no college offers outside of high school.

At the time, Mesa Community College coach Sam Ballard was recruiting one of Arms’ teammates from Desert Vista. But his son, Jordan Ballard, now Desert Vista’s head coach, advised his dad to check out Arms, who was just opening gyms.

“Jordan knew him from club ball, and even though he didn’t play much for DV, he thought Adonis was a gifted kid who really enjoyed the game,” Sam Ballard said.

The elder Ballard discovered and signed him after seeing him perform at an open gym.

“That’s really what JUCOS brings to the table – hope for late developers,” said Sam Ballard. “He worked hard, was benched a few times as a learning exercise, but always had a real belief in his future and worked for it.”

Arms, who was 6-1 when he started playing MCC, went all-conference as a sophomore, which Ballard calls “quite an achievement since he left.”

From there, Arms, who left MCC at 6-4, transferred to Northwest Nazarene, an NCAA Division II school in Nampa, Idaho, where he averaged 20.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists on a 20-8 team in 2019, earning Northwest Athletic Conference Great Player of the Year.

After his junior season, he transferred to Division I Winthrop. COVID-19 gave Winthrop an extra year in college, which he took advantage of.

After last season, when he averaged 10 points and 10 points in Wintrhop’s NCAA Tournament first-round loss to Villanova, Arms, now a chiseled 6-foot-5, 210-pounder, was traded to Texas Tech as a graduate.

He’s averaging 8.7 points and 3.9 rebounds, starting six of the Red Raiders’ 15 games, averaging 23.8 minutes.

“He’s really an empowered kid,” said Michael Contreras, who has mentored and helped coach Arms since his family moved to Phoenix when he was in sixth grade. “His motivation is his family.

“Finally, he always had full confidence in himself.

“Everyone knew he was good. But not to be in a situation where everyone thought he would be now.”

Darden couldn’t be happier to see how far the 23-year-old Arms has come. It’s a testament to never give up.

“Having a high school team full of future college players, I’m glad he kept working, that he used his situation to push him on the field and not quit,” Darden said. “I’m glad he grew into his body.

“This success shows what happens when you believe in yourself, commit to the work and don’t give up. I am grateful to Coach Ballard for giving him a chance to grow and mature at MCC.”

To suggest ideas for human interest stories and other news, contact Obert at [email protected] or 602-316-8827. Follow him on Twitter @azc_obert.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Adonis Arms’ Journey From Dark Desert Vista To Shocking Baylor