Pitt freshman Steven Adams is very easy to root for

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Anyone that has paid any attention to basketball recruiting over the last year or so will know the name Steven Adams.

Once an unknown prospect from New Zealand, Adams exploded onto the national radar at last summer’s Adidas Nations event. Unfortunately for the rest of the country, Adams was already committed to Pitt at that point. Panther head coach Jamie Dixon played professionally in New Zealand, at one point teaming up with Adams’ coach in Wellington.

So when Dixon got a tip about Adams and sent an assistant there to take a look, the scholarship offer was a no-brainer. Luckily for them, Adams accepted. He enrolled at Notre Dame Prep in January to help get himself academically eligible for the upcoming season.

Andy Katz wrote about all of that in his feature on Adams that was published on Wednesday, and none of it was new information to anyone that had been paying attention. What was new, however, was just how intriguing Adams’ life-story is. From ESPN.com:

Adams is the youngest of 19 children. His father passed away of cancer when he was 13. His mother, who is Tongan (his father was of English descent), still lives in their hometown of Rotura. But the death of his dad left him adrift until older brother Warren sent for him to come to Wellington.

He ended up living with a coach, trainer and guardian in Blossom Cameron and was placed in a school called Scots College Prep. He quickly became a budding star in the country’s sports landscape, as detailed here by local New Zealand television.

His family remains athletic as his older sister, Valerie Kassanita Vili-Adams, won her second gold medal in as many Olympics in the shot put. She won the gold in Beijing and was just awarded the gold in London after Belarus’ Nadzeya Ostapchuk was stripped of her medal for a failed drug test.

Adams has so many nieces and nephews that he has lost count (he thinks he has 11).

“They’re all older then me,” Adams said. “They were changing my diapers when I was first born. Weird, huh? It shouldn’t happen.”

Adams said all but two of his 18 siblings grew up in the same house. He said there was once a family reunion, but only 14 or 15 of the siblings could make it.

“I was the smallest one there,” said Adams with a laugh. “My sisters are big.”

According to the report from New Zealand, when Adams was taken in by Cameron, he was 13 years old and couldn’t read or write and was only going to school for gym class.

Adams, by all accounts, has a great personality and sense of humor. Hopefully, he continues to work hard and develop, as a student, a person and a player. Knowing what he’s been through in his young life and seeing the kind of outlook he has makes him a very easy kid to root for.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.