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SI High School Player of the Week - Basketball

February 23, 2012

Steven Adams

Position:

Power Forward

School:

Notre Dame Prep

Location:

Fitchburg, Mass.

Height:

6-10

Weight:

210

Class:

Senior

Season Highlights:

Rivals' No. 4 prospect in the class of 2012, forward Steven Adams is transitioning from New Zealand to the U.S. He boasts NBA-caliber size and a budding interior presence, and has thrived since joining Notre Dame Prep in January. Adams is committed to Pitt.

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Posted: Thursday February 23, 2012 11:57AM ; Updated: Thursday February 23, 2012 1:01PM

New Zealand F Steven Adams set for hoops stardom

By Sam Stejskal, SI.com

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One afternoon last month, just a few days after arriving to America from New Zealand, Pittsburgh commit Steven Adams plopped his 6-foot-10 frame on a couch at Notre Dame Prep School in Fitchburg, Mass. He picked up a guitar and started strumming "Sweet Home Alabama", the iconic tune by Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynrd. It was a bit of a surprising choice for a recently relocated teen on his first day at a new school, but it fit Adams -- far from a typical high school basketball star -- perfectly.

"That first day he played 'Sweet Home Alabama' on his guitar, then he walked by, picks up a ping pong paddle and starts doing crazy serves," recalled Notre Dame Prep coach Ryan Hurd. "Then he walks by the pool table and casually spins a ball to the middle of the table and shoots it right into the corner pocket.

"I felt like he was the Dos Equis man. He's just a really fascinating kid."

Rivals' No. 4 recruit in the class of 2012, Adams is also immensely talented. And after moving from Wellington, New Zealand, in early January to play for Notre Dame Prep -- a small boarding school that produced NBA players Michael Beasley and Terrence Jennings and current Missouri standout Kim English -- he's only beginning to show his stuff stateside.

The towering forward is still adjusting to his new home, settling in for his final semester while learning the American basketball culture that his teammates are so familiar with. He can't yet understand why he's receiving so much attention, and he's not yet accustomed to seeing large crowds at games. He's also remarkably unpolished around media: He once walked away from a television interview during taping to hop on a pair of nearby uneven bars.

But while his behavior is occasionally a tad strange, Adams is far from a big stiff. In fact, he's outgoing, gregarious and wildly entertaining, quickly gelling with his new teammates and enjoying his introduction to America.

"It's pretty fun," Adams said. "It's been fun just making new friends and taking on new challenges."

So far, Adams has excelled in those endeavors. Though he has only played basketball seriously for upwards of four years, he's thrived against Notre Dame Prep's daunting schedule, notably tallying 23 points and 13 rebounds in a Jan. 14 game against five-star center Nerlens Noel and Tilton School (N.H.). Adams certainly has work to do -- he'd like to develop additional post moves and improve his man-to-man defense (he only played zone in New Zealand) before arriving at Pitt -- but his strong start and abundant talent have Hurd thinking big.

"The kid gets 15 rebounds by accident," Hurd marveled. "I can remember leaving the floor over those first few games saying, 'I'm not sure he gets it yet,' and then looking at the box scores and seeing he got 15 [points] and 15 [rebounds]. Then I'm saying, 'Alright, maybe he gets something here.'"

Hurd added, "I think he'll be very successful."

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