Young Kiwi basketballer Steven Adams is one-and-done - but has he done the right thing?
The towering centre - the younger brother of double Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams - yesterday announced he would enter the NBA draft at the end of June, ending his American college career at the University of Pittsburgh after just one underwhelming season.
The 2.13 metre Adams recently indicated he would return for another season in college but has changed his mind to gamble on being a high draft pick by one of the 30 NBA franchises.
It's a risky move for the former Rotorua and Wellington 19-year-old, who many astute basketball scouts in the US believe is far from ready for the world's best professional competition.
"In discussing options with my family and coach [Jamie] Dixon, I feel that it is in my best interest to declare for the NBA draft," Adams said yesterday.
"I want to thank everyone at Pitt, including my team-mates, coaching staff, the administration and the fans, who have all supported me over the last year."
Adams averaged 7.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and two blocks a game in his freshman season at Pittsburgh, which ended when the team was surprisingly knocked out of the US championship tournament in the second round.
"I'm definitely coming back," he told the media afterwards when questioned about his playing options.
"I don't know why you guys keep asking that question. I'm definitely coming back."
Adams played a limited role with the Wellington Saints in the New Zealand National Basketball League in 2011 but his size and athleticism had him quickly earmarked as a potential star in college in the US, where he was heavily recruited, and a genuine NBA prospect.
He was rated as the 20th best prospect for the 2013 NBA draft this week by highly-regarded website DraftExpress, but behind seven other centres.
Critics believe Adams lacks the offensive skills to excel at the highest level and feel he would have been better served with another year learning his trade at college than stagnating as a little-used bench player in the NBA.
Adams is part of a large extended family and has previously indicated a key driving factor in his desire to become an NBA player was to look after his family financially.
Joe Starkey, a radio host and freelance columnist in Pittsburgh; yesterday tweeted: "I remain convinced that when Steven Adams recently went home to New Zealand for a week, he had zero intention of going NBA."
Pittsburgh coach Dixon, who played in the NZ NBL in 1989-90 for Hawke's Bay, said: "After talking with Steven and his family, we fully support him in this decision. We support him in choosing to pursue his dream and in having the opportunity to provide for his family back in New Zealand."
Only two New Zealanders have played in the NBA. Sean Marks was drafted from the University of California in 1998 after four years in college. He was taken as the 44th pick, spent 11 years in the league as a backup centre and won a championship ring in 2005 with the San Antonio Spurs, where he is now director of basketball operations and general manager of their D-League affiliate, the Austin Toros.
Kirk Penney was undrafted after a fine four-year college career at the University of Wisconsin and had brief stints with the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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