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Name: Steven Adams
Stats: 7’0″, 255 lbs.
A New Zealand native, Adams is the youngest of the 18 children (no, that’s not a typo) of an English Royal Navy veteran, and one of his sisters is the two-time defending Olympic shot put champion, Valerie Adams. After his father’s death in 2006, Steven moved to the nation’s capital, Wellington, to live with his brother, who signed the teenager up for a basketball academy.
At 18, he helped the Wellington Saints to their second consecutive National Basketball League championship, winning the Rookie of the Year award in the process. Adams came to Massachusetts in January 2012 and played a semester at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, the school that current NBA players Michael Beasley and Kim English attended.
In his only season in college at the University of Pittsburgh, he averaged 7.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2 blocks per game, and shot 57.1% from the floor. Adams led the Panthers in boards, rejections and field goal percentage. Pittsburgh finished the regular season in fourth place in the Big East, but bowed out in the first round of the conference tournament, and then again in the NCAA Tournament in a bad loss to Wichita State. Adams was easily the Panthers’ best player in that game, as he recorded a double-double with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Like Frenchman Rudy Gobert, Adams is considered a raw talent and a candidate to spend most of the 2013-14 season honing his game in the D-League. Unlike Gobert, however, most analysts see Adams as a near lock to be an NBA starter at some point down the road, even if he could have used another year in college. Adams has tremendous potential and any team that needs help inside and is willing to be patient would be happy to snatch him up near the middle of the first round.
His 7’5″ wingspan and huge hands are an important asset, but he’s also a superior athlete and a very decent mid-range shooter for a player his size. As far as big men go, the Celtics would love to get Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng or Adams, but both have been rising up the draft boards and it’s far from a sure thing either will be available at number 16. If both coveted big men are gone, perhaps Duke’s Mason Plumlee could be the consolation prize.