River Lion chooses hoops over books
In his final year at UC San Diego, Adam Klie was named California Collegiate Athletic Association Player of the Year after averaging 15.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game.
Impressive numbers indeed for the Anchorage, Alaska, native but nothing compared to the 4.0 grade point average he earned in the classroom. Even more impressive was that his degree was in bioengineering and not something easy like sports journalism.
Upon completing school as the NCAA Division 2 university’s career leader in points, rebounds, field goals made, games played, and minutes among other categories, the 22-year-old contemplated continuing his education.
“I was looking to continue the same degree I received as an undergrad at the University of California at San Diego in bioengineering and bioinformatics and possibly going to get a PhD,” he said. “I was accepted into the school and what I did was defer my application for a year.
“We are going to play the season, see how it goes and make another decision next year.”
For idiots like this reporter, bioengineering applies engineering principles of design and analysis to biological systems and biomedical technologies while bioinformatics combines computer science, statistics, mathematics, and engineering to analyze and interpret biological data. If you’re still not sure what it is, that makes two of us. Just skip this part and go straight to the basketball.
Klie thought long and hard about his decision.
“I felt like after my last year of college I still had more to give to basketball and basketball still had something more to give to me,” he said. “I wasn’t ready to hang them up yet and I wanted to give it a try and see what professional basketball was like.”
He is driven by a love of basketball.
“It’s a passion and I know this won’t be there down the road,” he said. “The opportunity was now and I decided to take it and see what I could do with it.
“Hopefully I will go with the school and the academics a little bit down the road.”
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound guard first caught the eye of River Lions head coach Joe Raso in July at a Hart Sports Management basketball camp in Las Vegas.
“Coach Raso watched me play a couple of games and said he liked what he saw,” Klie said.
He most certainly did.
“First impressions are everlasting,” Raso said. “Adam left a definite positive impression. His skills, his feel and his work ethic were all on display. I knew he was a trained, motivated player who will make coaching enjoyable.”
Raso also received a favourable report from his friend Scott Morrison, an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics, who worked out Klie with Celtic Gordon Hayward and was extremely impressed.
“I got to be around Gordon and see how he did things so that was fun,” Klie said. “It was cool to have that guy around.”
After doing his homework, Klie decided to come to Niagara.
“As a rookie after looking at all my options and seeing what I could find, this is the best place for me.”
Attending the training camp in St. Catharines is the first time he has ventured into the Great White North.
“I’m from Anchorage so I am used to the weather a little bit,” he said.
Klie hopes the fans will quickly get used to and appreciate his style of play.
“I put it on the floor and get to the rim and that’s mostly what I did in college,” he said. “By the end of college, I was a lot better at making plays for other guys so I kind of like to put my feet in the paint and score for myself or find someone else for a good shot.”
In his first year of pro ball, he wants to get better every day.
“This is the opportunity to make basketball my sole focus and see if I can become the best basketball player I possibly can,” he said.
Judging by the intensity during the River Lions train camp this week, he’s in the right place.
“Everyone is playing for a pay cheque, but at the same time, I think this is how we want to be this year,” Klie said. ‘We want to be intense all the time and that’s going to be the tone we set from the get go.”