Young fans got to show off their skills in front of "a big NBA star" when basketballer Steven Adams appeared at a youth training session yesterday.
The Oklahoma City Thunder rookie has made it a priority to attend training sessions with 50 future stars at the New Zealand Basketball Academy in Wellington while he is home.
The young players were thrilled to meet Adams, and said they trained harder than ever to make sure their form was perfect while he was around.
Natasha Pilitati, 16, said it was "so intimidating" to be training in front of "a big NBA star".
"Everybody was making sure they were doing it all perfect," she said.
"I watch all the games, it's so amazing because he's just a guy from Wellington."
Sharnay Leef, 12, said Adams was encouraging to the young players.
"It was really good, but there was a bit of pressure with him there."
She said he spent a bit of time passing the ball around and talking with players and coaches.
Head trainer Gavin Cross said it was just like old times having Adams back at training.
Most of the young players had known Adams for years and were excited to have him back for a week or so after his outstanding rookie season in the NBA.
"Some of those kids were pretty excited, there was a bit of a queue afterwards for autographs and photos. He was really pleased too," Cross said.
Adams got to Westpac Stadium about 7am and stayed for an hour, running basketball drills and training with the students.
"He made time for all of the kids and took time with everybody," Cross said.
After the training Cross said Adams was "off to his aunty's for a feed".
For Joe Webb, 20, it was a chance to catch up with his old friend whom he has played basketball with since the age of 13.
"It's good to see him ... he's one of my good mates. He hasn't changed a bit, he's just the same good dude."
He said it was part of Adams' character to want to spend his time at the NZBA with the young players.
"It's just like him to give back to up-and-coming basketball players."
NZBA coach Kenny McFadden said training with the academy was part of Adams getting "back into routine".
"He's definitely happy to be home."
Adams is thought to be splitting his time at home between Wellington and Rotorua.
His return to New Zealand followed a disappointing loss for the Thunder to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals.
Adams revealed this week that he would not be playing for the Tall Blacks at this year's Basketball World Cup, focusing on the NBA Summer League with the Thunder.APNZ