Is seven-foot Kiwi centre Steven Adams a future United States college and NBA star?
According to several American basketball pundits, absolutely.
Many have heralded the 18-year-old from Wellington as the story of the recently completed adidas Nations camp in Los Angeles - the 'Kiwi Phenom', one analyst called him, while another reckons he is a real chance to be a top-five pick in the 2013 NBA draft.
Adams' performance in California opened eyes among those in attendance at the camp. Over four games for Team Asia he averaged 22 points, 16.8 rebounds and two assists, including one 37-point, 14-rebound performance.
Adams, the half brother of Kiwi shot put star Valerie Adams, is set to graduate from Scots College this year and will then transfer to Notre Dame Prep for the 2011-12 season to gain American high school experience before he becomes eligible to play the 2012-13 season for the University of Pittsburgh.
And the praise is gushing.
Aran Smith, of nbadraft.net, reckons Adams is a real chance to be a "one-and-done", meaning he could play just one year of college basketball before being snapped up in the NBA draft.
"If NBA scouts had been allowed to be in attendance this week at adidas Nations, the buzz around this kid would be out of control right now,"Smith wrote.
"Adams has become the No 1 international prospect out there and will be the top centre prospect in college the minute he steps on the court at Pittsburgh.
"An enormous coup for coach Jamie Dixon (who played with Adams' brother in New Zealand several years ago) and Pitt, he's the type of talent that would instantly turn a number of solid NCAA squads into top-25 teams.
"He's got immense physical tools with long arms, huge, suction-cup hands, and a non-stop motor. He makes the game look incredibly easy, from making pinpoint outlet passes, to blocking shots, to crashing the boards with reckless abandon.
"The interesting thing is that he's actually eligible to declare for the 2012 draft. Had NBA scouts been able to be here to see him, there's an excellent chance he could have been a top-10 pick in the 2012 draft.
"As it is, he could probably crack the top 20 and possibly the lottery just by working out for teams and through videos ... (but) in reality, he will benefit greatly by playing a year or two of college ball and developing his skills before jumping to the league."
Smith claimed Adams destroyed top-10 senior Kaleb Tarczewski in their match-up, scoring 20 points, with 24 rebounds and four assists while holding Tarczewski to 10 points and four rebounds.
"Kaleb actually didn't seem to play all that poorly, he was just severely outclassed.
"In the final game against Africa, Adams appeared to pack it in, as the team was no longer in the championship running. He played about half the game and looked tired. He blocked a few shots and finished with 11 points and eight boards. But it didn't change anyone's opinion about him."
Adams spent time at the camp working on his shooting, particularly the jump shot, with adidas coach and former NBA star Detlef Schrempf, who appeared to be "pushing all the right buttons".
Adams chose to go to the camp instead of on the Tall Blacks' tour of China in Europe, mainly because it required less time away from school and he needs to keep his grades up to ensure a scholarship at Pittsburgh.
It appears to have been a good move.
"If the kid played in the US, without question he'd be in the discussion with the best players in the country," ESPN television analyst Sean Farnham told CBSSports.com.
"He's going to be a star in college," added Farnham, a former UCLA player. "A bonafide star. He'll step right in from day one and make an impact."
Former NBA player-coach Alex English was also impressed.
"He's very athletic," English said. "He can run the floor, blocks shots, rebounds well. He needs to learn how to play with his back to the basket and focus through the entire game."
DraftExpress.com's Jonathan Givony, who was also in attendance, added that while Adams' "all-around offensive game and fundamentals" needed some work, he is a rare physical specimen "who will contribute immediately and is a huge steal for Pitt and very likely a future NBA player".
"Pro, pro, pro," a college coach reportedly told CBSSports.com.
"He's that good - and Pittsburgh's big men will be as good as anyone's in a couple years."
- The Press
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