By Dan Arritt     12/29/2016

For someone who’s been overshadowed on the basketball court most of her young life, Jayda Adams has still managed to cast an impressive one of her own.

Now a senior at Mater Dei, she finally has the spotlight all to herself, and not just on the Monarchs, but within her tight-knit family as well.

Adams is clearly the best player for Mater Dei this season, the one who’s sought out by her teammates for guidance, looked up to for leadership and routinely asked to bury a clutch basket in a tight game.

Adams didn’t have nearly this many eyes pointed in her direction during her first three years at Mater Dei, and rightly so, considering the talent on the court with her at that time.

Duke recruiters saw enough of Adams, however, and offered the 5-foot-11 combo guard a full scholarship, which she secured last month by signing a letter-of-intent.

“I’m super excited,” Adams said of the opportunity to play for the Blue Devils, who have advanced to the Elite Eight or further in 11 of the last 19 NCAA Tournaments. “The competition is where I want it to be.”

As a freshman and sophomore at Mater Dei, she played for one of the best teams in the nation and shared the court with Katie Lou Samuelson, a 6-3 wing who was considered the top player in the country her senior year, leading the Monarchs to the Division I state finals.

Samuelson has since taken her skills to Connecticut, helping the Huskies win their fourth consecutive NCAA championship last March.

Adams’ role grew substantially last season after Samuelson moved on, but she still shared the court with Ally Rosenblum, a 6-4 center who averaged a team-high 17.7 points en route earning first-team all-Orange County honors by the Register. Rosenblum now plays for UCLA.

Even growing up, Adams was known more as the little sister of Jordan Adams, who starred for Mater Dei from 2008-20012 before heading to USC. After a slow start, Jordan’s career began picking up momentum two years ago, but then last season was lost to injury and then academic ineligibility.

Jordan returned this fall for what was to be her final season with the Trojans, but suffered a season-ending knee injury in the sixth game.

Jayda said she’s dedicating this season to Jordan, who’s now watching her sister’s every move.

“I’ve always looked up to her, so it’s really weird that she’s not playing, but she’s always here with me,” Jayda said. “She tells me what to do when I’m not doing well and how to do things better, and how to be a good teammate and a great leader, so it has some benefits to it.”

Adams said she’s ready, willing and excited to finally put the Monarchs on her shoulders, and she’s quickly adjusting to the new roles she’s being asked to play within the offense.

A high-percentage perimeter shooter with excellent ball-handling and passing skills, Adams is being positioned more in the high post, which means allowing another player to dribble the ball up the floor and initiate the offense.

“Unless she can figure a way to pass to herself, we’ve got to move her around,” said Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan.

Adams is more than willing to oblige.

“That’s what we need right now,” she said. “Whatever I have to do to win, I’m going to do it.”