In his first summer league game Monday night, Steven Adams exhibited all of the attributes that made him one of Pitt's highest-ranked recruits in years. He demonstrated nice touch around the basket, dominated the boards and showed off his court vision and passing ability.
But perhaps his best quality, according to junior forward Talib Zanna, is the fact that he is completely oblivious to the hype that surrounds him.
"Steve doesn't pay attention to the hype," Zanna said. "We talk to him about that. He's just a cool guy. Sometimes he doesn't even know what's going on. He's a cool guy and works hard. We need someone like him on the team."
Pitt basketball recruit Steve Adams already making a splash
Pitt's big-time recruit Steven Adams, who stands nearly 7 feet tall, put his skills on display in a summer league game. (Video by Brian Batko; 6/19/2012)
Adams, a 6-foot-11 center and five-star recruit from New Zealand who will be a freshman in the fall, does know what's going on when he is on the court. In a 78-63 victory for his team PGT Trucking, Adams scored six points, grabbed 18 rebounds and had three assists. He was 2 for 8 from the field and 2 for 4 from the free-throw line.
"I just make sure I do all the little things so we win," Adams said afterward. "I try not to force things. As long as we get the 'W,' I don't care about my personal stats."
Adams was matched up with West Virginia center Pat Forsythe for much of the game and did more than hold his own. Adams scored all of his points in the first half. His first field goal was a tip-in and his second also came from an offensive rebound. He repeatedly tipped balls to himself over Forsythe (6-10) and others.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon arrived in time for the second half after a speaking engagement in Beaver County.
"Everyone wants to see the first game," Dixon said. "I remember the first game last year with the new guys. The new guys will be built up. That's how it works. It's fun. People enjoy it. They come out and watch. Everyone wants to project."
One big difference between Adams and Khem Birch, a freshman everyone wanted to see a year ago, is Adams' physical stature. Since coming to America this winter, he has put on 33 pounds and weighs a solid 248 without any noticeable body fat. Birch came to Pitt frail and stayed that way until he transferred to UNLV midseason.
Adams credits strength and conditioning coach Tim Beltz for his physique. He also has become a solo advertising campaign for some of the local eateries, where he sometimes consumes three meals in a sitting.
Adams' favorite spot is the Fuel and Fuddle in Oakland, where he takes full advantage of late-night, half-price specials. He usually goes for a steak burger, a turkey burger and a small pizza.
"The [workouts] are just so intense I can eat whatever and just run it off," he said.
Adams is competing against Zanna, senior Dante Taylor and freshman Malcolm Gilbert every day in workouts and pickup games at Pitt. Adams said it has been a learning process for him.
"Me personally, I don't think I'm doing too well skill-wise," Adams said. "They know a lot of technical things. I still have to learn that. I'm still kind of raw. I used to be able to rely on my size. Now that I'm versing bigger and stronger dudes, I have to get my footwork right. Talib, he's amazing. He's a good player. He's been teaching me. He's a real good team player, too. He's been teaching me all the basic stuff I need to know."
As for any goals for the upcoming season, Adams said he is all about the team.
"Just to make sure I bring a positive energy and have my teammates feed off me," he said. "I'm not looking to do anything extra [special]. I'm just going to do what Jamie Dixon says and what the team wants me to do. I just want to win."
Ray Fittipaldo: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @rayfitt1. First Published June 19, 2012 4:00 AM