PITTSBURG — From the time Pittsburg State forward Xavier Adams picked up a basketball, he has stood above the rest.

At 6 feet 6 inches tall, Adams does a little bit of everything on the floor for a Gorillas’ team which has shown plenty of promise in their first year under head coach Kim Anderson.

“I’ve been playing since I was four-years old,” Adams said. “ I didn’t really realize I was good until seventh grade. At that time, I had to move to a different school district and the coaches at my new school didn’t really appreciate my playing style. That experience humbled me, and ever since then, I’ve been working hard to play collegiate basketball which I was able to do.”

Adams began his collegiate career at the University of New Mexico, where he sharpened his talent against some of the best collegiate players in the nation.

“When we’re recruiting, especially in your first year as coach, you’re always monitoring the guys who are transferring,” Anderson said. “Jaxon Holden was the one who initiated the process and then I was able to speak with him. We were able to get him to come to campus and we had a nice visit. He’s not looking for a fancy lifestyle, he just wants to go to school, play basketball and play his video games. He’s been a great player and a great teammate during his time here.”

Since transfering over to Pitt State over the summer, Adams has been working to improve himself at every opportunity.

“The first thing he had to overcome was the knee injury, but he’s a hard guy to keep down,” Anderson said. “I remember one day back in June, we had just finished camp and I looked out my window to see Xavier scrimmaging with his teammates. At that point, he was six weeks away from being medically cleared to play, so I went out on the balcony and got onto him. I don’t know how many times he did that when I wasn’t around, but he just likes to play. He’s a no-nonsense guy and he just plays hard. He’s a great asset to our team and a positive influence to a lot of our younger kids.”

Not only is Adams one of the tallest players on the team, his versatile skill set allows him to be just as effective around the perimeter as he is under the basket.

“I feel like my role is whatever coach Anderson and my team needs,” Adams said. “To me, roles can change. Sometimes I need to be a shooter, but other times I need to battle in the post and get rebounds. My role on the team is whatever the team needs me to do at that time. I’ve always been labeled as a role player, but I just give my team whatever it needs.”

As the leading scorer and top rebounder for the Gorillas, Adams has a variety of talents to make him effective on the floor, but it’s his intelligence which could be his biggest strength.

“The first guy who turned me on to watching film was a former coach of mine Boswell Thomas,” Adams said. “He was the first coach to tell me how important basketball I.Q. is. I play so hard that I don’t care about my body, which is why I’m always battling injuries. However, I think the thing that saves me is my basketball I.Q.”

Adams’ in-game decision making is critical to the success of PSU, as he makes many adjustments on the fly.

“I think he’s a leader,” Anderson said. “I think he’s gradually shifted into that role. Although, he’s not a role player for us. What I try to do with him is put him in a position to be successful, but the thing about him is that he can play inside or outside, so I just try to evaluate who is guarding him at the time. I can run a play to get him to the basket or set him up for a shot. He’s a pretty well-rounded player. He’s not a role player, but he can play a lot of roles.”

Following his time at Pittsburg State, Adams wants to continue to be around the game of basketball whether it be as a player or a coach.

“After graduation, I hope to continue playing basketball,” Adams said. “Besides that, I would like to go home, get my teacher’s certificate and become an elementary school teacher. I also hope to coach a little bit and teach some younger kids what I’ve learned over the years. I’m not really closed-minded to anything, I just want to enjoy life. I’ve been working hard and I just want to do what I love.”

Before looking too far into the future, Adams said he’s focused on finishing out this season and leaving the program better than he had found it.

“We just have to keep grinding together,” Adams said. “I’ve been on some good teams and some bad teams, and the difference comes down to whether or not the group is truly a team. We all can work together, that’s not a problem, the difficult part is challenging one another and not feel like we’re attacking anyone. We just have to be a team.”

 — Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at jbuckamneer@morningsun.net and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.