29 Jun 2013

Adams makes it to the big league

8:17 am on 29 June 2013

Basketballer Steven Adams has made history by becoming by the first New Zealander picked in the first round of the American NBA draft.

The 19-year-old was picked 12th in the draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder and will earn a $2 million salary for the next two years.

Adams is the brother of Olympic shot-put champion Valerie Adams and is set to be the third New Zealander to play in the NBA after Sean Marks and Kirk Penney.

The 2.13-metre-tall (7ft) centre, who has played for the University of Pittsburgh, said he is delighted to have been drafted and it feels "amazing". His manager Kenny McFadden was with him at the Brooklyn convention centre in New York.

Adams' foster mother Blossom Cameron told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Friday she knew he was destined for success the first time she saw him at 14.

"He was just young. He had raw talent, he was a raw person - but a genuinely nice kid. He just needed pointing in the right direction."

Ms Cameron says it was a nerve-wracking experience watching the draft.

A former student of Scots College in Wellington, Adams was granted partial scholarship by the school to help him meet the academic requirements he needed to take part in the draft.

Headmaster Graeme Yule says students and teachers watched the draft on screens set up at the school and were very excited when the former pupil was named.