Steve Adams is a young man in demand.
Tall Blacks coach Nenad Vucinic wanted him on tour in China and Europe, the teachers at Scots College wanted him to stay home and hit the books, but instead the 2.1m teenager is with mentor Kenny McFadden in Los Angeles this week at an elite basketball tournament.
Wellington Saints legend McFadden says the decision to attend the adidas Nations tournament was a compromise between the Adams' camp and Scots.
Adams needs to keep his grades up to ensure a scholarship at the University of Pittsburgh next year, and touring with the Tall Blacks would have meant five weeks off school.
Instead, he will miss just one as he suits up for the Asia region – as he did last year – in a series of games against some of the world's best 18-and-under talent.
NBA players Josh Smith, Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon and former players and coaches Mike Dunleavy, Alex English and Detlef Schrempf will tutor the aspiring pros.
"They have a student-athlete theme to it, with guest speakers and mentors that come in and help out with education and life skills and time management," McFadden said from LA.
"So it's a huge opportunity for him to get mixed up with these boys but also get some off-court experience as well."
McFadden said Adams, the National Basketball League rookie of the year, was disappointed Scots had prevented him making his Tall Blacks debut but he understood the rationale behind the decision. Adams was on track with his schoolwork but motivation was a constant battle.
"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."
Porirua's Jordan Ngatai is also at the LA tournament, with McFadden hopeful he will attract the interest of an American university.
Breaker Isaac Fotu was also invited but will instead fly out with the Tall Blacks today for the Stankovic Cup in China.
- © Fairfax NZ News