NBA basketball career beckons for Adams

JAMES GREENLAND
Last updated 11:06 31/05/2012
Steve Adams
FAIRFAX
CLIMBING HIGH: Steve Adams' basketball prospects keep getting better.

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Steve Adams is used to standing out, and not just for being Olympic gold medallist Valerie Adams' younger, taller half-brother.

At 2.1 metres (7ft) tall and 110kg, the Wellington teen seems huge, even next to his taller-than- average basketball team-mates - and his future in his chosen sport looks equally gargantuan.

Adams, 18, originally from Rotorua, attended Scots College before heading to Notre Dame Preparatory School in Maryland.

Having impressed in American high school basketball, Adams last week flew to Pittsburgh University on an athletic scholarship, another leap towards his professional NBA aspirations.

While waiting at home for a visa, Adams made a cameo appearance this month in the Wellington under-21 team in the national championship in Porirua.

He was indomitable in pool play. He cruised through the semifinal against Hutt Valley, contributing 33 points, and dominated the final against North Harbour, which Wellington won 84-81.

The last 10 seconds of overtime in the final brought out the best in the big man. Adams leapt from well out of position and, fully extended, swatted away rookie Tall Black Isaac Fotu's attempt at tying the game.

New Zealand basketball hero Pero Cameron was in the crowd for the final.

Cameron, former New Zealand captain and current Wellington Saints coach, described Adams' career prospects as "bigger than huge", saying his potential was "outside my imagination and most in this country".

"It's up to him to make the most of his gifts," Cameron said.

He said that time playing in the NCAA American college league would help Adams develop the mental side of his game.

With everyone from Cameron to the media to NBA analysts backing his ability, you could be forgiven for thinking that Adams might be developing an ego to match his triple-XL singlet size.

But that's not the case.

Adams is often described as humble, but a more important virtue is his drive; he is better characterised by his dedication and focus than his quiet humility.

He knows he is good. But he knows he can be better too, and is motivated to work hard.

Although the NBA is his goal, he isn't getting ahead of himself.

"Right now I have to set myself up for my life and the future," he said.

At Pittsburgh University, Adams will study business and social science.

"Steve's work ethic sets him apart, and that is what will ensure his success," Kenny McFadden, his mentor, said.

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Having shot put star Valerie Adams as a half-sister had given the young basketballer a role model for excellence, McFadden said.

To Adams, Valerie is a sister first and foremost.

"She's more worried about me, about how I am. She doesn't care about the basketball.

"She takes notice of it and says, 'That's cool', but she just sees me as her brother. She'll just make sure I'm OK. It doesn't matter what I'm doing."

Adams credits his father for his determination to achieve.

"He brought me up to make sure that I keep doing hard work and to be the best I can be," he said.

His successful transition - from Rotorua school truant to US-based college athlete - has been inspired by those he cares for most, and he is determined to make them proud.

"Family is the whole reason I'm playing basketball actually. I want to help my family work toward their dreams."

Despite the massive hype and his obvious talent, Adams remains focused on moving towards his life and career goals.

"I love basketball definitely, but whatever happens on the court stays on the court.

"I just like being seen as Steven off-court, not Steven the basketballer."

Adams seems to have the tools he needs to build a future as big as his shoes.

He's about to get a chance to test those tools on the competitive United States college scene, and hone them for the pros.

- The Wellingtonian

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