Jamie Dixon's pickup of New Zealand center Steven Adams is looking better by the day. How good? This good:
The athletic, 210cm power forward, whose sister Valerie is an Olympic gold medallist in the shot put, is seen as perhaps the most exciting prospect in the history of New Zealand basketball.
He also just recently won the New Zealand's National Basketball League (NZNBL) Rookie of the Year award.
On the local front, Adams is in Los Angeles and had a dominant two-day effort at the recent Adidas Nations camp. On the first day, Adams' 12-point 20-rebound effort opened some eyeballs, but it was on the second day that he had perhaps the best outing of the event thus far. Following his strong Day 1 performance, Adams dropped 37 points and 18 rebounds on a 2013 Team USA squad.
Despite the fact that Adams played well last year at the camp, averaging a league high 11.3 rebounds per game, he apparently looks even better this year.
But he almost wasn't at this year's event.
Adams had to make a decision to play for New Zealand's Tall Blacks (yes, that's actually the name of a team) basketball club on a tour in China or go to Los Angeles for the Adidas camp. Oh yeah, and a third option was to stay at school at Scots College and do some studying. Obviously studying lost out, but from the sound of things, Adams apparently needs the work in the classroom:
"He's not the brightest student and he's trying to catch up on a lot of schooling. He's not out of the hot water yet but what we hope is, when we do come back, his motivation to want to go to this damn school [Pittsburgh] will be a lot higher," McFadden said.
"If you don't pass your SAT tests and do your studies back in New Zealand, then there's no way in the world – I don't care if you're Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant – they're going to let you into the school."
Um, well, that doesn't sound too promising. Seriously, I wouldn't read too much into it yet, bad as it sounds. He's still got another full year in school and things could get much better over that time.
Plus, he also at least appears to take his grades seriously.
Earlier this Summer, Adams said:
"Grade points averages, SATs ... it's all laid out in front of me plain and simple and I know the levels I need to do this," Adams said over the weekend, warming down from another Wellington win.
"It's Pittsburgh next year, and beyond that who knows, but only if I knuckle down at school. Nothing's happened yet [with the planned move to US] and nothing will unless I make it happen with the books."
One reason he apparently headed to the Adidas camp instead of going on the China tour was because it meant only one week away from school instead of five.
Meanwhile, without Adams, the Tall Blacks pulled off a win over the host country, China on Sunday.
And on a far less important note, I'm not sure just exactly how tall he is, but it appears he could have grown recently. Rivals' page lists him at 6'10", while Scout has him at 7'0". NBADraft.net, however, says he's now 7'1".
Either way, I'm looking even more forward to 2012.