For the town of Bozeman to become home in the past three years would likely have come as a surprise to Amine Adamou when he first arrived at the home of Montana State University in the summer of 2019. His first two years of college in America had taken him to two different junior colleges, and at a time when transferring to the next Division I schedule isn’t as frowned upon as it once was, another destination after a season spent at MSU might have been on the table.
Instead of another temporary stint in college town, Adamu made the most of his time in Bozeman and in turn helped elevate the Bobcat men’s basketball program.
Adamu came to the United States from his home in London, England and began his basketball career at the junior college level. He spent one season at Western Wyoming Community College and averaged 19 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. A coaching change there resulted in Adamu’s transfer to Casper College for his second season. Alongside the current Montana State Assistant Dan Russellwho captained Casper College in 2018-19, the Thunderbirds went 32-3 and won their first NJCAA Region IX championship in 23 years.
The success of the team and the numbers he produced individually, averaging over 15 points and 4 rebounds per game at Casper College, gave him the opportunity to reach the Division I level. he was reluctant to have to move a third time in less than three years to a new country, but circumstances eventually helped to facilitate the move.
“I felt it was a bit difficult to deal with,” Adamu said when he first considered his next school choice. “I didn’t want to leave my JUCO schools every time I did. I only had to leave because of the circumstances. My first school, my head coach left, then my second JUCO, that is just part of the process going through two years at this level.
“I had a good year, the team had a good year, and being close to coach Russell and knowing he was coming here ended up making my decision a lot easier. I knew I would be looked over. The transition was definitely interesting for me, but it ended up working at the end of the day.”
Another leg of his journey to America was not going to be easy.
Adamu noted that the physicality of the game of basketball in America was his first adjustment. His next at Montana State would be to handle the rigors and expectations of being a Division I student-athlete.
It wasn’t a transition that was all positive for Bobcat’s current senior guard.
“I’m most proud of his growth off the court,” Montana State head coach said Danny sprinkle. “I had to be very hard on him his first year. We had a meeting after his first two months to send him back to London. At that time he just needed to have some discipline. We knew how talented and good of a kid he was that he left the ground. He just had never been held accountable. Once we had that conversation, he’s been on another level ever since. “
His freshman season at Montana State continued to feature the big numbers on his stat line that he saw at the junior college level. He averaged 11.7 points on 45.5 percent shooting with 5.2 rebounds per outing. Most of his work has been done inside the arc as he hit six 3-pointers in 29 games.
But what Adamu has worked on the most are the things behind the scenes, the things that others who aren’t around him miss on a daily basis.
“Each year he’s taken a step or a notch in terms of maturity,” Russell said. “Academically he’s really stepped up, basketball-wise he’s grown a lot. I think he’s grown the most socially, just in that he’s grown to be at comfortable in his own skin and coming to terms with who he is. That’s probably where I’ve seen the most maturation.”
His progress in all walks of life has been reflected in the type of player he represents.
Adamu improved his field goal percentage every season of his college career at Montana State. Although he’s shooting less, he’s still averaging over 11 points per game as he’s become a better distributor. Adamu has emerged as a deep threat as this season he has made 20 of his 53 3-point attempts for a mark of 37.7%. He’s also one of MSU’s leaders on the court now as a top class member and playing in his third year in the program.
“He slowed down on the field,” Sprinkle said. “He kept improving. You can see all the work he’s done with the way he shoots in basketball now. It’s done by himself.”
This progress on the pitch could have been achieved thanks to the work he did on himself outside of it.
“Really on the floor,” Adamu said when asked where he thinks he’s improved the most over the past three years. “I feel like I’m more mature with people, with my teachers, I can communicate with them to know what I’m doing and just be better prepared with my classes.
“On the pitch, I’ve been open to listening more to my coaches. They have the answers to a lot of things and trying to talk to them never goes well, so I think I’ve matured a bit. I think I I was calm and I have a lot more confidence in myself.”
Adamu noted his relationships with Russell and Jubrile Belo were important factors for him to go to the state of Montana. His friendship with Belo, which has lasted since they dreamed of playing Division I basketball in high school, he said, was a blessing to have during his time as Bobcat. Adamu highlighted the multiple people who helped him work on himself, such as his teammates, coaches, and community members he got to know.
His development in his relationships with those around him has made him a fan favorite for those who attend basketball games at Worthington Arena.
“It’s been fun watching her grow,” Russell said. “He had a long way to go in all three aspects and he answered the bell. He did everything we asked and more. As a result, he had a very good career here.”
This career is nearing the 1,000 point mark as a member of Montana State with its final Big Sky tournament just a week away. While at one point Adamu may have had his individual accomplishments in sight, the senior Bobcat guard is aiming for higher goals.
“At the moment, my focus is just on this Big Sky Championship,” Adamu said. “We’ve worked hard and this program has changed. I feel like every year we break records and make history. We think we deserve it.”