Pitt recruit Adams opens eyes in Summer League

| Monday, June 18, 2012, 9:52 p.m.

Pitt five-star recruit Steven Adams was surprised to see fans standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the tiny gym at Greentree Sportsplex.

“For real, people standing up?” he said. “What the hell? It shows you how committed they are.”

Adams should get used to the attention. The 6-foot-11, 248-pound center from New Zealand made his debut in the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am Summer League on Monday night, in front of a standing-room-only crowd that included Pitt coach Jamie Dixon and several hundred fans crammed onto the three-row aluminum bleachers and encircling three-quarters of the gym.

Adams, the incoming star for a Panthers program coming off its worst season in more than a decade, had 18 rebounds, six points and three assists for PGT Trucking, which won, 78-63, over Steel City Tickets, a squad with Pitt teammates Dante Taylor and Durand Johnson.

“I just made sure I do all the little things to make sure we win,” Adams said in his thick accent. “I tried not to force anything.”

Adams, a consensus top-10 national recruit, arrived on campus three weeks ago — long enough to find his favorite Oakland eateries — but this was the first time he competed in an officiated game. Playing against mainly West Virginia 6-11 center Pat Forsythe and Taylor, Adams went 2 for 8 from the field and 2 for 4 from the foul line. But in between, he showed some of the skills that have him ranked as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 mock draft, according to NBADraft.net.

“I definitely see a bright future for him,” Taylor said. “He has a knack for rebounding, just certain things that you can't teach a player.”

Adams, who played prep ball last season at Notre Dame (Mass.) Prep, remains his toughest critic.

“Me, personally, I don't think I'm doing too well,” he said. “(Taylor and junior forward/center Talib Zanna) know a lot of technical things that I still have to learn. I'm still kind of raw.

“I just want to make sure I bring a positive kind of energy just so other teammates can feed off it. I'm not looking to do anything extra. I just want to do what Jamie Dixon says and what the team wants me to do. I just want to win, really.”

Said Dixon: ”He's a good kid and he plays hard. He will get better because of those two things.”

Adams joins 6-9 Taylor, 6-9 Zanna and 6-11 sophomore Malcolm Gilbert as Pitt's big men this season. Taylor, told he will play some power forward, said like every player on the Pitt roster, Adams will have to earn his playing time.

“I know I'm going to have to bring it every day at practice,” Taylor said. “It's not going to be easy, and I'm not going to make it easy on him. He's going to have to work for it, and that's going to help our team.”

John Grupp is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jgrupp@tribweb.com or 412-320-7930.

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