Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
The freshman has not taken the country by storm ... what gives?
There were some lofty expectations put on a young kid from New Zealand in the preseason. Steven Adams was supposed to lift Pitt back to national prominence in the blink of an eye. He is supposed to be the best newcomer in the Big East, and maybe even contend for player of the year. Adams was to have a short stay in Oakland, and move on to the bright lights of the NBA in a few short months. That doesn't appear to be happening just yet, though.
The expectations placed on Adams are a lot for any kid to handle. Just look at the Fab Four at Kentucky this season - with three losses already this season, it's clear they've got some work to do. Being a 19 year old kid playing for a recognizable program with the world being expected from you is not easy for anyone. That's especially true for someone that does not understand it all just yet. People tend to forget that Adams comes from New Zealand. He wasn't groomed to be an NBA center playing AAU since he was 12 years old. He has been in the States for less than a year, and it's still taking time to process.
His game still appears to be in the developmental process. The little things like bringing the ball low, dealing with double teams, or flat out rebounding positioning has not been there. It's not his fault since those are things you learn at a young age. He also doesn't have that rebounding instinct just yet, but he has shown flashes. He is not that dominating scorer everyone hoped he would be, but has done some impressive things. Adams is the shot blocking presence Pitt has lacked and that has been the best aspect of his game.
Adams may not be a "one and done" player and he may be here a lot longer than people expected. That is not a bad thing, though. Adams has a world of potential and it is just beginning to be tapped. Jamie Dixon can and will turn him into a big time player. It was unfair for the kid to have the most outrageous expectations in the whole country and he will only get better.
So what does it mean for Pitt this season? It means they do not have a Cody Zeller type talent in the post. They still have a veteran group that is hungry to get back into the tournament. Talib Zanna's progression has offset the slow start by Adams. Dante Taylor's rebounding effort must be commended. Pitt has excellent play from their two point guards, and Lamar Patterson and JJ Moore can carry a team on any given night. Pitt may not have the dominant center they expected just yet, but the talent is in place to get back to the tournament.