When the Pittsburgh Panthers landed highly regarded prospect Steven Adams in recruiting, many figured the freshman to be a dominate force his first year at the college basketball level. However, Adams did not only struggle early, he struggled often. Mostly on the offensive side of the ball where he is still only averaging 6.9 points per game. But that hasn’t stopped the big man from improving and becoming a big reason why the Panthers are playing well down the stretch.
Pitt has won six out of their last seven games. The winning ways of the Panthers have put them only one game away from being atop of the Big East Conference. Not coincidentally, the good play has come at the same time as Adams has found his role on the team. Yet, it is not the role that everyone thought he would have when he committed to Jamie Dixon. Instead of being this offensive juggernaut, who would be one of the few legitimate centers left in the entire world, Adams has become the Panthers rebounding machine and has improved defensively to the point of teams game-planning their offense around him (Averaging two blocks per game).
That’s not to say he is a liability on the offensive side of the ball either. Adams has become one of the Panthers high-energy players on that side of the ball. Whether it be a good old fashioned offensive rebound or a highlight put-back dunk, Adams is giving his squad the much needed intangible points the Panthers will need if they want to be successful come March.
Pitt is a team that seems to have a good regular season every year only to falter when the NCAA tournament comes around. The biggest exception between Pitt teams of the past and the one currently constructed, they never had a player who can alter the game such as Adams.
And this freshman’s story isn’t nearly close to being done written, as he has one of the highest ceilings of any player in the nation.
Joe covers the Catholic Seven for Rant Sports. For the love of Sam Cassell, follow Joe on the Twitter Machine @JosephNardone