Steve Adams is back from the USA and more bemused than ever.
New Zealand's hottest basketball prospect cannot quite work out what all the fuss about, even though he is the half-brother of shot put world champion Valerie Adams and a seven-foot (2.13 metre) teenager seemingly destined for a career in the NBA.
Adams is back in Wellington for a short holiday and to sort out his passport and visa before beginning his basketball scholarship at the University of Pittsburgh in August.
He spent the first four months of the year playing for Notre Dame Prep School, helping them to the semifinals of the national high school tournament.
Adams is ranked by ESPN as No6 among the 2012 college recruiting class and his size, athleticism and Kiwi sense of humour is already attracting plenty of media interest.
"Yeah I didn't expect it to be that much," Adams said, shaking his head in confusion.
"I was nervous last year, getting media attention in New Zealand for the first time. But then when I went over there it was just ridiculous. There's so much media attention, for high school players. I think most of them don't even know where New Zealand is. And the other thing is they think it's like a Third World country. Most of them asked me if we live in grass huts, it's ridiculous."
Adams gets more animated talking about food than basketball.
He is making the most of the home comforts, returning to his traditional Kiwi breakfast of "three pies, half a loaf of bread, a bowl of Nutrigrain and a bowl of porridge all washed down with a cup of coffee".
"The food is crap in America, it's all fake and you don't know what's real," Adams said. "We had 60 per cent beef one night. I said `what's the other 40?' They didn't know."
Despite those head scratchers, Adams is clearly becoming more comfortable in his own skin and his time at Scots College has prepared him well academically for Pittsburgh. He passed his SAT tests at Notre Dame and will study business and social science at university although plenty of American basketball observers predict he may only be there for a year before entering the 2013 draft.
Adams swats aside the question. "To my knowledge right now I'm staying there for four years but I don't know, we'll see what happens."
As well as playing for Notre Dame, Adams earned a spot in the Jordan Brand all-star game in Charlotte last month.
In just 17 minutes he pulled down a team-high nine rebounds to go with four points, an assist, a block and a steal as the West All-Americans beat the East 99-95.
"That was a very good experience, they treat you amazing. I felt like an actual professional athlete because they treated us like NBA stars. I think it's pretty weird, but it was a good experience, just knowing what to expect and how you have to hold your image around the public. We got talks from all the NBA kind of people to get us ready."
Adams can be seen in action for the New Zealand Basketball Academy at Kilbirnie's ASB Sports Centre today against Wellington Intercity teams Heat (12.45pm) and Kapiti (4.30pm).
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- The Dominion Post
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