Another Aussie Grabs the Spotlight
Big-time players always seem to shine the brightest when the stage is the biggest. And these games just keep getting bigger for the Great Danes.
Adam Lulka, and the rest of the University at Albany men’s basketball team, have been heating up of late but, they also understand the importance of finishing the season out strong. Lulka, a redshirt freshman, has averaged 9.0 points per game, along with just under 8 rebounds in his first full season as a Dane. On a team that is very perimeter oriented, the 6’8 Forward has served as the only true inside-scoring big man for head coach Will Brown.
Adam was originally born in Syndey, Australia before making his way over to the United States. It is no surprise to see yet another Australian born player shine on the court for UAlbany – just look at fellow freshman Cam Healy and Brent Hank.
The entire Lulka family was very involved in athletics while Adam was growing up which allowed him to ease into it at a young age. He participated in various kinds of sports including swimming, tennis, rugby, and eventually basketball around the time he was in the 8th grade. At the age of 16, after growing to be about 6 foot 4, Adam really started to get serious about basketball and jumped around a bit in the process – attending three different high schools.
During his senior year of high school, Adam starred at “The King’s School”, one of the oldest and best-known schools in Australia, averaging 24 PPG & 10 RPG. This was around the time when Adam started to get interest from Division 1 colleges to play basketball. He knew he had ability but, just wanted to find the right fit for himself. After talking to many schools and going for recruitment visits, Adam felt that Albany not only spoke to him the most consistently but, also really tried to build a relationship with him.
“It just felt the most genuine,” Adam said about his recruiting experience in the Capital Region.
Lulka thinks very highly of the culture that Coach Brown and company have steadily instilled here on and off the court but, ironically it is Lulka himself that can be described as the ‘most genuine’.
“He’s a great kid to coach. Every day I try to find ways to get under his skin just to get him to get more aggressive and he just smiles. Always smiling. You know he enjoys college, he enjoys the academic piece, enjoys the basketball piece, loves his teammates. You just can’t get enough guys like him,” said Coach Brown when asked to describe Adam.
Adam is well-regarded by his teammates as well.
“He’s a good guy, a good teammate, [he] always has his things up to date whether it’s coming here on time or in the classroom. He’s great on the court and great off the court with everything he needs to do,” said freshman forward Brent Hank.
It’s not just his play on the court that has been impressive, everything that Adam does, he does well. His unselfish attitude toward the game and to his teammates is unwavering but, it is what Adam does off the court that may be the most impressive of all. He is a brilliant 4.0 student, that is set to graduate next spring because of his academic excellence but, luckily has 2 more years of NCAA eligibility remaining. Moving forward, the thing that is most important to him is to leave here with a master’s degree; Adam is currently majoring in psychology.
“He wants to see his teammates have success. If he shoots the ball two times in a row, there’s no way in heck he’s going to shoot it a third time in a row,” Brown added about Lulka’s selfless character toward his teammates.
Adam will always give praise those around him but, when asked which of his teammates in particular he looks to for guidance and mentorship — he was quick to praise veteran senior Devonte Campbell.
“Dev, he’s our senior, he’s been here for the longest amount of time. He just knows how to work with the system here at Albany. He knows how to get in and out of the grind, constantly work hard and compete repeatedly. He’s been a great leader for all of us,” Lulka said.
Lulka was forced to redshirt after missing his entire freshman season with a left shoulder injury and wasn’t even able to practice or lift until the summer. Still, it is no surprise to see him take on such a large role this season. On a team that graduated so many players and has been starting five freshmen of late; Adam is just another example of a young player that has made the most of his opportunity to play early on.
“He’s great team player for us, and as one of the captains on the team, he is always keeping everyone together and being a great leader out there. He’s really just doing well his first season out on the court,” said Brent Hank, shedding light on the maturity of his teammate.
After a slow start to start the season, the Danes have played better of late and have put themselves in a position to compete for a home game for the Conference playoffs. It will be a tough task as they must win their remaining three games to do so. When asked about his personal goals moving forward, Adam paused for a few seconds than replied,
“I really just want to make the American East Championship. I want to win the championship. I want to go to the NCAA March Madness because that is just a dream. That is everyone’s dream here. I think we have a young group of kids, and the guys here we all have the same goal and we want to get there together. I just want to contribute as much as I can to that goal and see our team succeed.”