The Moore American

July 3, 2013

Pro dreams realized for OKC rookies

By Michael Kinney
The Moore American

EDMOND — Andre Roberson had no idea where he was going. On draft night, the Colorado product said he was at home watching the telecast like any other NBA fan wondering if his named was going to be called.

So when it was announced Oklahoma City had moved up three spots in the first round to pick the athletic forward, Roberson was just as surprised as anyone. But the 21-year old said he couldn’t be more satisfied with his new home.

“It was a dream come true,” Roberson said. “A surreal moment. When people say it’s like a dream, it’s really like a dream. I had a 100,000 different emotions running through me. I was happy that I get to play for this organization.”

Roberson was the second of four rookies the Thunder acquired on draft night. Three of them, Roberson, Steve Adams and Grant Jerrett, had their first press conference as members of the Thunder Saturday. The only one not on hand was Alex Abrines.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to add these young men to our organization,” Oklahoma City General Manager Sam Presti said. “We’ve always focused on bringing in young players who are motivated to work, motivated to improve, motivated to get better. That’s the mark of a high performing organization. That’s what we are striving here to accomplish in Oklahoma City.”

Adams, a skilled, athletic 7-footer who possesses physicality and toughness, was Oklahoma City’s first pick of the night. The 19-year-old New Zealander was taken with the No. 12 pick overall.

During his lone season at the University of Pittsburgh, Adams (7-0, 250 pounds) appeared in 32 games and registered averages of 7.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 23.4 minutes per game.

Adams was named to the Big East All-Rookie Team after ranking first all-time in school history for field goal percentage (.571), second in blocked shots (63) and sixth in rebounds (192) for freshman seasons. He became the first player from New Zealand to be taken in the first round of the NBA Draft.

“My reaction on draft night kind of felt like my birthday and Christmas all put together,” Adams said. “I was really excited about it. It’s just a huge honor to be putting on a jersey and representing the whole community.”

In three seasons at the University of Colorado, Roberson (6-7, 210 pounds) saw action in 105 games and posted career averages of 9.6 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks in 28.3 minutes per game. After his junior season, Roberson was named the Pac-12 Conference’s Defensive player of the Year while receiving First-Team All-Conference honors.

While at Colorado, Roberson became the first player in school history to lead the team in rebounding, blocked shots and steals for three consecutive seasons. This past season, Roberson ranked second in the nation after averaging 11.2 rebounds per game.

Roberson said he knows he wasn’t drafted to be a scorer. It was his talents on defense and rebounding that caught the attention of the Thunder.

“Everybody knows that I’m a great rebounder and defender,” Roberson said. “I feel like those will be my strengths that I bring to this team. Continue to work hard every day and develop my other skills as well. Help the team compete and win championships.”

Oklahoma City acquired the draft rights to Jerrett (6-10, 235 pounds) from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for cash considerations. The 19-year old played only one season at Arizona and averaged 5.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.0 block in 17.8 minutes per game.

Despite the small sample size, Jerrett made an impression on the Thunder.

“It’s always been a dream to play in the NBA and pay for an organization like this,” Jerrett said. “It’s hard to put in words. It’s a dream I’ve had since I was a little kid. Just seeing what this team does on and off the court, it just seems like a good fit for myself just to come in and do what I can to make this organization better.”

Abrines (6-6, 190 pounds) spent the past season playing for F.C. Barcelona in Spain’s ACB League where he averaged 3.4 points and 1.1 rebounds in 11.0 minutes per game.

Presti responded to the rumblings from fans who were not as enthused about the selections as he was.

“We’ve never really looked outside for affirmation on our decision making,” Presti said. “I’ve always tried to focus on what builds an organization in the vision we’ve established. Most important to us is that we’re consistent with the things we think build the type of organization we want to have. Which is one that is identifiable within our community. One that is focused on the short term and the long term. We respect whatever might be said, but we are focused on our decision making.”