MEMPHIS — As UConn’s season came to a close on Friday afternoon in a blowout loss to Houston, so did the career of one of the program’s most intriguing players.

Jalen Adams, who began his UConn career as a heralded recruit, hit a famous 75-foot shot as a freshman and put up impressive numbers (if not wins) over the next three seasons, played his final game as a Husky.

Adams needed 20 points to take over the American Athletic Conference’s all-time scoring mark but, in somewhat of a metaphor for his career, fell short. He finished with 15 points and ended up with 1,706 for his career, four shy of Rob Gray, Jr. — a former star at, ironically, Houston.

Adams finished 10th on UConn’s all-time scoring list, perched between Wes Bialosuknia (whom he passed in Thursday’s win over USF) and Kemba Walker (1,783).

“As I look back on it, coming in, I was a young child, an immature kid,” Adams said. “I think as I have progressed throughout my time, I became more mature and looked at the bigger picture. I think a lot of people go through different things and I think adversity was probably the best for me. It’s turned me into a man.”

Adams left the game with 51.5 seconds left. He got a hug and some words from Hurley, congratulations from his teammates on the bench. The UConn band chanted “Ja-len Ad-ams!” A few people in the sparse crowd of a couple of thousand stood and cheered.

“I tried to think about the good things more than the bad things,” said Adams, his voice cracking a bit with some rare sorrowful emotion. “Seeing all my brothers standing up for me, I don’t know, just — it hits a soft spot in your heart. All the love that you see on your team is different ... People will never have that same genuine love for you.”

Added Christian Vital, his teammate the last three seasons: “Just to see one of my better friends in college basketball and life, to go out like that, it kind of hurt. Because I know the time he puts in and the talent he has. I know the expectations, especially as guards coming to UConn, it just didn’t go the way he expected or I expected. I wish him the best, and I know he’ll have a great professional career.”

Adams’ 75-foot buzzer-beater to send an AAC first-round tourney game to a fourth overtime in an eventual win over Cincinnati will be his most memorable moment. Adams made just one trip to the NCAA tournament, as a freshman, where the Huskies beat Colorado in their first game before falling to top overall seed Kansas.

He was a first-team all-AAC pick as a sophomore, second-team as a junior and third-team this season, in which he missed six games due to a sprained MCL.

Hurley, who coached Adams for just one season, had a couple of clashes along the way and isn’t one to typically get too choked up — got a little choked up.

“He’s grown a lot,” said Hurley. “Listen, he’s had incredible bad luck in terms of timing of a player of his caliber coming into the program. My heart kind of breaks for him because of the conditions that he’s had to play through. And he’s had an amazing career playing through it. Not many players of his caliber have come to UConn and have had to go through the career under the conditions he’s had — the program sliding, coaching transition.”

“Obviously, not being surrounded by what some of the great players in the past have been surrounded by, I don’t think a guy could have handle it much better,” Hurley continued. “I don’t think somebody could have kept such a positive attitude and been such a good guy to be around while having kind of everything around him not what he signed on for. So, I’ll always admire that about him. And I hope to stay connected with him through what I think is going to be an amazing professional career.”

VITAL SIGNS?

Vital was asked about the team’s potential for next season.

“I think the group is gonna definitely be a good group next year,” he said. “A lot of guys coming back, the incoming freshmen, James (Bouknight) and Jalen (Gaffney), those two guards coming in will definitely be really good for the program, as well. I think the team is gonna use this last game as a learning experience. This whole year in general, as a good learning experience for everybody.”

Vital never used the word “we” or referenced himself as part of next year’s team. As a junior, Vital likely wouldn’t want to transfer and sit out a full season just to play one more elsewhere. He won’t be picked in the NBA draft, but could opt to play professionally somewhere, either overseas or, perhaps, in the G League.

Vital briefly tested the NBA waters last spring before returning to UConn. Asked if he planned to test the waters again, he replied: “I’m just trying to dwell on this season and thinking about being here with my teammates, pretty much.”

david.borges@hearstmediact.com