Coming into the season many felt that incoming Pitt freshman center Steven Adams could be a one-and-done type of player.
Adams had the attention of many NBA scouts before he even played a game in a Pitt uniform and given his size and massive wingspan, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him head for the greener pastures after only one season of collegiate ball.
But things didn’t exactly start that way for Adams as early in the season he resembled a lost freshman, much more than he did a lottery pick.
That’s not the case anymore.
It’s true that Adams’ numbers don’t scream NBA first-round pick. He is only averaging 7.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. But he is playing just over 23 minutes per night in Jamie Dixon’s extremely deep rotation and he is shooting close to 60 percent from the floor.
It has taken Adams a while to get adjusted to the speed of the college game, coming from New Zealand, but you can see what all the hype is about.
During his past five games Adams has had a huge impact in Pitt’s four wins, averaging 9.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game.
The most impressive part?
Three of those games were against ranked opponents in Louisville, Syracuse and Cincinnati.
Adams is proving to be a game-changer at the defensive end of the floor.
He is a presence and even when he’s not blocking shots and pulling down rebounds, Adams is altering a ton of shots per game and keeping teams from driving the paint.
Offensively, Adams is developing some decent post moves that will only improve with time.
If Adams wasn’t the unselfish player that he is and the Panthers weren’t the unselfish team that they are, his numbers would be even better at this point during his freshman campaign.
Adams likely needs at least one more year of school and about 15 pounds of additional muscle before testing the NBA waters, but NBA teams would be all over him if that was the route he chooses to pursue.
He has the look of a guy who could be a double-double guy in the NBA down the road.
Adams have the length, athleticism and footwork that NBA scouts drool over. You can’t teach size and Adams certainly has that.
NBA scouts have flooded the Petersen Events Center getting a look at Adams so far and plenty have told me they like what they have seen.
Where that would translate to draft status?
Who knows? But it is nice to see the improvement in the big man as he is certainly living up to the hype.
The nice part is that Adams gets better almost every game and the sky appears to be the limit.
The seven-footer has said he has no intentions of looking at the NBA after the season, but you couldn’t blame him if he did.
Just look at what happened to Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, who possibly could have been the No. 1 overall pick in this summer’s draft. Coming back for a second season and risking a serious injury could impact Adams’ draft stock.
Adams may not be NBA ready right now, but he is certainly showing that he will be one day.
That’s a good thing for both Pitt and Adams.
For the Panthers, it shows potential star recruits that if they have the talent, Pitt can get them to the NBA quickly, which is huge as they prepare to head to the ACC next season.
For Adams, if the NBA is calling, it means that he had a great deal of success down the stretch and helped lead the Panthers on a lengthy NCAA Tournament run.
It is a great situation for both parties.
My gut feeling says Adams will be at Pitt for one more year.
But it won’t be long before he is making an impact on the next level.
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