Originally written February 14, 2013 on Pitt Blather:
I know it is common in just about every city, but I am not a big fan of the cross-media thing. Where a local columnist also does the radio show. (And by that, I mean, my general problem not specific to a particular guy.) Not because his work suffers or because he isn’t particularly good. It bothers me because every column written takes on an undertone of preparing for a topic on the radio show. I thought about this as a couple weeks ago Joe Starkey did a column on Steven Adams. This week Ron Cook had his own column. Both centered on the issue of whether Steven Adams would return for his sophomore year (or even junior year). And hey, Chris Mueller also did a Steven Adams column — though, he is more radio guy first so I probably cut a little slack on that. For the record, Starkey thinks he will. Cook says, “who cares.” In both you can almost feel how this is just prelude to using it as a topic on their respective shows. Okay, I’ll take the bait. I believe Adams plans to come back, but I won’t be surprised if he goes pro based on the rate of his improvement. Sad to say, the Nerlens Noel injury may very well provide a boost to his place in the draft after slipping into projections that say the teens to the twenties. His numbers may not look impressive, but look at the #9 pick from last year, Andre Drummond. The UConn one-and-done put up less than outstanding numbers and still went lottery. Drummond: MPG — PPG- RBG–BPG—FG%-FT% 28.4 10.0 7.6 2.7 .538 .295 Adams: 23.4 7.2 6.5 2.0 .594 .404 Adams has shown steady improvement. Especially in recent weeks. “Steve is starting to show what he is really all about,” junior forward Lamar Patterson said. “Everyone has heard of what he can do, but now he’s starting to show it. He’s one of the most talented big men, I think, in the country. That’s a big statement for a freshman, but we’re starting to see the real Steve Adams now.” Pitt had played without a legitimate low-post scoring threat since DeJuan Blair left for the NBA in 2009. The Panthers were good enough to win a Big East championship and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament in 2011, but Dixon wanted to return to the formula that worked so well when Blair, Aaron Gray and Chris Taft manned the middle for him early in his tenure. “This is the first game we saw the results,” Dixon said. “We’ve been emphasizing it, trying to get better in that area.” It was the first time Adams reached double figures since scoring 10 Dec. 19 against Delaware State, but this breakthrough game had been in the works. In the past six games, he is 22 for 36 from the field and averaging 9 points per outing. “He’s more patient,” Patterson said. “He’s not as sporadic as when he first came in. That comes with being a freshman. As long as he keeps improving, we expect him to do big things.” Adams is not doing much media. Pitt has shielded him. So, there is something of a big question mark regarding the kid and his future. That just fuels the speculation. And really, even if he did more media it wouldn’t change anything. Whatever he says now. Or next month mean nothing until the window to declare for the NBA draft. If it helps, it seems the New Zealand media believes he’s staying for another year. Before the start of the US college basketball season, rising Kiwi star Steven Adams was tipped to spend just one year with the Pittsburgh Panthers, before declaring for the NBA draft. But it now seems almost certain that he will return for at least another year at Pittsburgh, which former NBA player and ESPN college basketball analyst LaPhonso Ellis said would be a smart move. “One more year of college development will be great for him. What it will help him with is his understanding of the American game, because it’s so different. “One more year in college will enhance his skill level and put him in a better situation to get drafted next year.” Ellis has been impressed with Adams’ growth since the start of the season. He believed his game would keep evolving as he became more consistent with his play. “He’s better now than he was in November. Because of his work ethic, you’ll continue to see him get better. I’m really excited about his future.” Adams’ old mentor from New Zealand won’t speculate on what Adams will do in April. But he does say this about the free throw shooting. That is one area letting him down (averaging 37.5 per cent). Is that a confidence or technique issue? Neither. He damaged his thumb five weeks ago. It’s heavily strapped and giving him restriction. He has to make some adjustments because he’s been shooting them pretty poor. What about his development in other areas? Overall, he’s making tremendous progress. As a freshman you can feel like you’re doing nothing right because the coach tries to tear you down and build you back up. But he’s third in the Big East in field goal percentage (58.3 per cent) and fourth in blocks. And he’s getting better each game. How is he enjoying life in general? He’s loving it and he got a 3.8 grade point average in the first semester which was extremely surprising. He’s finding college life, team-mates and the environment good but at the same time challenging. Hopefully he finds reasons to keep playing at Pitt (*cough* girlfriend *cough*). But, it wouldn’t be a mistake if he looks to the pros.
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