Steven Adams solid in prep All-star game
Kiwi basketball sensation Steven Adams was solid rather than spectacular in his most high-profile appearance since heading to the US to prepare for the next college season.
Adams was a late inclusion in high school All-Star game the Jordan Brand Classic held in Charlotte at the weekend, and was content to play largely within himself in the contest won 99-95 by Adams' West All-American side.
The 2.13m Wellingtonian played a team-low 17 minutes in the game and finished with four points (1/2 FG, 2/4 FT), nine rebounds, an assist, block and steal and three turnovers.
Adams' rebound haul was a team-high for the West lineup despite his minimal minutes.
Observers noted that though Adams had not stood out among the elite of the college-bound American high school fraternity, he had held his own in a game more geared towards the smaller players on court.
Adams, the younger brother of Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams, will start the next college season in August at the University of Pittsburgh under Jamie Dixon. Many are tipping him to play just a single season before entering the NBA draft.
The New Zealander is considered among the elite of the new class of college recruits, with most leading scouting organisations listing him among their top 10.
ESPN's reputable college hoops website ranks Adams No 6 among the 2012 recruiting class, describing him as possessing "unusual athleticism, excellent basketball body and a relatively high motor for a young player".
The fact that Adams has played so little in the US - he only linked with Notre Dame Prep for the second half of the high school season after moving from New Zealand in January - has many predicting a big upside for the Kiwi.
"Steven is completely untainted by the process of being a highly regarded player in our country," Notre Dame Prep coach Ryan Hurd told ESPN.
"He just does his thing on the court, and nothing else really affects him.
"He came in with huge expectations placed on him," added Hurd. "He was kind of a mythical creature. Our players expected him to be incredible."
Adams averaged 12 points and 14 rebounds for Notre Dame Prep with his most spectacular performance coming when he went for 23 points and 13 rebounds in a matchup against Tilton School's Nerlens Noel who is ranked ESPN's top college recruit for 2012. Adams kept Noel to 14 points and seven boards.
"I had to learn everything real quick," Adams told ESPN.
"I'm playing against a lot of big guys now. I was usually the tallest player in New Zealand, and the small people weren't as quick and athletic as the American players."
The learning process is expected to continue for Adams when he starts at Pitt, but given the high level of interest in the 18-year-old New Zealander from pro scouts already, he is expected to remain on the NBA radar.
Adams is hoping to play for the Tall Blacks in the upcoming Olympic qualifying tournament in Caracas.