Being 7 feet tall, Steven Adams has blessed with the body built for basketball. His background, though, is less hoops oriented. Adams was born in Rotorua, New Zealand, and didn't play competitive basketball until he was 13, after the death of his father.
"I just realized that I needed to work hard at something and be the best at it," Adams says. "I decided to make something out of playing basketball."
Adams, one of 18 siblings, arrived in the United States last year to finish high school, and was surprised to find how basketball players of his caliber, even at his age, were already being treated like full-fledged celebrities.
"It's super weird," he said, "especially for a kid my age. At home you only get this treatment if you're a super celebrity."
To Adams, the difference is staggering between how he's treated in the United States and at home where he rarely gets requests for autographs or interviews.
"Ever since I've been here, it's just been media, rah rah, media; I'm still getting used to it," he said. "At first I was real nervous, mumbling; I didn't know what to say. I never thought it would be like this. It's crazy."
Participating in events like the Jordan Brand Classic, an annual high school all-star game now in its 11th season, has helped Adams acclimate to the culture here and even learn to enjoy it.
"It can be quite fun," he said, "but sometimes I think it's too much attention for people my age. We're still high school players."
Adams played just 17 minutes in the Jordan game -- the least of any player
on either team -- but managed 4 points and 9 rebounds, as well as a steal and a block, for the victorious West.
Adams, who will attend Pittsburgh next season, said he is more focused on improving his game with the Panthers than eyeing the NBA and enjoying the life of a student.
"I'm making sure I don't miss anything now," he said.
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