Missouri's 2017-18 season has been dominated by a possible NCAA Tournament berth and the saga surrounding Michael Porter Jr.'s back, but a few of the most memorable moments came from walk-on forward Adam Wolf, a junior who happens to have more points on season than the former No. 1 recruit in the country.
Before an ACL tear in early January ended his season, Wolf played in three blowout victories at Mizzou Arena after Cuonzo Martin obliged the crowd's "We want Wolf" chants. The walk-on buried a 3-pointer in each game and sent teammates and Tigers fans into an overjoyed stupor.
Missouri managers and coaches celebrate Missouri managers and coaches celebrate after an Adam Wolf 3-pointer pushed the team's total to 100 in the last minutes of a game against Green Bay on Dec. 9, 2017 at Mizzou Arena. Wolf tore his ACL during a January practice and was forced to remain on the sideline during MU's tournament push.
Tyler Murray tweets about Adam Wolf
Alec Lewis tweets about Adam Wolf
Gabe DeArmond tweets about Adam Wolf
Now, T-shirts with Wolf's face on it circulate around campus, and fans seek him out in public.
"I'll be out and about in Columbia, and these random people won't even say what's up to me; they'll just say 'Feed the Wolf, Feed the Wolf'. It's funny," Wolf said. "All my teammates are like, 'Why does everybody like you? Like, what'd you do?' It's weird, everybody just gravitates toward me."
Wolf's nine points on 100-percent shooting electrified the crowd, but it's his role on the team that connects him to a fan base in a way only players like Brian Scalabrine are capable of doing.
Fans of the Nets, Celtics, Bulls and the NBA in general have carried an obscure fascination with Scalabrine for years, despite his limited role on the court. He's most famous for winning a title with the Celtics in 2008 without stepping foot on the court. In a 2012 Bleacher Report article, Ben Wittenstein said fans love Scalabrine because he's personable, funny and "someone who everyone can relate to. And when he is able to hit the 3-pointer, that just makes it even more the better."
The same could be said about Wolf. While Porter's Instagram is highlighted by pictures of the projected NBA lottery pick posing with Stephen Curry and James Harden, Wolf wasn't good enough to make the A-team in fifth grade.
After his small collection of 3s, though, fans treat him like a member of the starting five. He said his Instagram following increased by 1,000.
"It's really surreal," Wolf said. "It's so much fun."
From the shadows to 'the dude'
Wolf spent his first three years of high school in Lake Forest, Illinois ó a suburb about an hour north of Chicago. Although he played a prominent role on the team, he always stood in teammate Evan Boudreaux's shadow.
Boudreaux, a four-year varsity starter, finished third in Illinois' Mr. Basketball voting his senior year. He was a standout at Dartmouth before transferring to Xavier for the final two years of his eligibility.
Wolf enjoyed playing alongside Bordeaux but thought Lake Forest wasn't giving him the platform he needed to be successful; so his family moved to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, for his senior year of prep basketball.
Before Wolf moved, Beaver Dam coach Tim Ladron and his players traveled to an AAU tournament in Milwaukee to watch and meet the newest member of their team. They all started cracking jokes and became close immediately.
It was a perfect fit from the get-go.
"I wish I would've [transferred] my freshman year," Wolf said. "There was so much more opportunity for me to play. The coaches were so cool, too. I was actually friendly with them, not like my other coaches (at Lake Forest). I loved it there."
Wolf thrived as the Golden Beavers' focal point, averaging 17 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He helped turn the basketball team into a winning program and earned first-team All-State honors in the process. He became a leader and role model for the school.
By the end of the season, the entire city of Beaver Dam (more than 16,000 strong) knew his name.
"Being the dude was fun as hell," Wolf said, "your confidence just goes up."
Despite his breakout year and stellar AAU performance with Chicago Full Package, Wolf received zero Division I offers. He drew the attention of numerous top Division II programs throughout the country, such as the University of Southern Indiana, University of Wisconsin-Parkside and Winona State University, but the offers weren't enticing enough.
Wolf's dad, John Wolf, was a walk-on at Marquette. Through attending his father's basketball reunions and being a fan of a DI program like Marquette, he realized attending a big university was something he wanted to do, regardless of whether or not playing basketball was an option.
Then, Missouri assistant coach Brad Loos stumbled upon film of Wolf. The footage was enough for Loos to extend a walk-on offer.
It was an easy decision from there.
"I can't turn that down," Wolf thought at the time.
His poor grades in high school, however, put him in jeopardy of getting into MU. Basketball and training took over his life, and his grades suffered because of it.
MU has a policy for in-state students who don't have the grades to initially get in but still wish to attend the school. Students take two summer classes, which they have to pass to be accepted. Wolf wasn't a resident of Missouri, but Loos made an agreement with the school to extend him the opportunity.
Wolf earned As in both classes.
Ever since he stepped foot on campus, Wolf's attitude towards life has rubbed off on coaches and teammates.
Senior guard Brett Rau said Wolf, his roommate, is one of goofiest people he's ever met. The two love to joke around with each other.
"When we're at our apartment, I can hear him yelling from his room about video games; like, he's getting pissed off," said Rau, Wolf's roommate. "I could record it from my room and hear him screaming some funny stuff.
"Before the games ... he'll just pull out these hilarious dance moves," Rau added. "He's trying to be funny, but (his moves) are still a little messed up. We just die laughing."
No matter who you talk to, one common theme comes up: Wolf's positivity and happiness is what separates him from the crowd.
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"I don't know if Wolf has a bad day," Missouri assistant coach Chris Hollender said. "His zest for life is contagious. Adam's spirit is on fire every day, smiling every day. I'll say this, one day Adam Wolf is going to be a tremendous husband and father. I believe that with my entire being."
Because of his injury, Wolf doesn't travel with the team on road trips. That doesn't stop him from doing his job: be energetic and bring positivity into every situation. Before road games, he'll send an encouraging text to the team to rally the troops.
Wolf's attitude makes him an important asset for the team. It's hard to have a successful program without guys like him.
"It's one thing to come into a high school program and be as talented as he was, but the attitude and energy he brought was something special," said Ladron, Wolf's Beaver Dam coach.
Although Wolf had the Beaver Dam stands packed while playing for Ladron, nobody could have guessed that a walk-on would have his own dedicated fan section before Porter.
Well, maybe MU junior Patrick Bentz, who became friends with Wolf on the fifth grade B-team.
As leader of the student section at Lake Forest High School, Bentz joked about dubbing the section "The Wolfpack" for Wolf's senior year ... had his friend not transferred.
When Wolf walked on at Missouri, Bentz's idea became a possibility again.
Bentz and his friends have been fans of Wolf since his freshman year but waited until peak Wolf hysteria during the 2017-18 season to start a Wolfpack Facebook group, which boasts more than 70 people who attend most home games.
You've probably seen them rocking the custom T-shirts on the Mizzou Arena JumboTron.
After one of Wolf's 3s, a fan tweeted out a picture of a custom "Feed the Wolf" shirt and joked about selling them. Junior Kevin Puryear quoted the tweet and said, "Need this in an XL."
When Wolf's dad saw the custom shirt, he made 100 to hand out to his family. He gave the leftovers to Bentz.
"He basically said, 'Adam loves it; the whole family loves it. I know you and all of your friends go to the games, so rep them a little bit,'" recalled Bentz, who's worn the shirt to every game since.
Adam Wolf T-shirts
"I'm around a living legend every day and I didn't even know," Hollender said, "He's got T-shirts, man. He's a folk legend."
Wolf may never be an NBA lottery pick, but his short-lived taste of stardom turned cult following suits the goofy kid just looking to make a name for himself.
Supervising editor is Brooks Holton.