A 2017 UC San Diego graduate, men's basketball standout Adam Klie exemplifies the term "student-athlete."
On the court, the 6-foot-4 guard was the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Player of the Year and a consensus first team all-region selection as a senior. He left the school as its Division II leader in career points, rebounds, field goals made, field goals attempted, free throws attempted, games played, and minutes played. Adam was just the second Triton in the program's DII era (since 2000-01) to record 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in a career.
In the classroom, Adam held a 4.0 GPA as a Bioengineering major at Revelle College. The Anchorage, Alaska, product earned a litany of academic accolades including CoSIDA Academic All-America of the Year, CCAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and D2CCA Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He was also an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winner as a senior.
Adam is currently wrapping up his rookie season of professional basketball with the Niagara River Lions of the National Basketball League of Canada. Playing in all 40 of the team's games so far, he is averaging 6.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 20.0 minutes. Adam has netted at least 10 points nine times, including a season-best 20 at St. John's on March 31.
With five regular season games remaining, we caught up with Adam to get his thoughts on playing professionally, what life is like in Ontario, and how he keeps connected with UC San Diego.
Q: Talk about your first season so far. How are you playing personally and how is the team doing?
Adam: I think it’s safe to say this season has been up and down for me individually and as a team. There have been times when we have been playing some really good basketball, but we haven’t played with the consistency that it takes to be a top team in this league. And I think the same thing could be said for me individually. I’ve had moments and games where I feel as comfortable as I ever have been on the court and games where I play like a rookie. It has been a learning process for me and has been a terrific experience overall.
Q: How does the pro game differ from the college game? What are the biggest/most challenging adjustments?
Adam: I’ve had to make plenty of adjustments, and some I am still making. The pro game is fast and very physical, more so than in college. The short shot clock speeds things up and condenses offenses, and along with the increase in physicality, makes decision making a lot tougher and little details that much more important. The biggest adjustment for me has been to learn how to recognize situations on the court and understand where to go with the ball before the play even happens. The physicality and athleticism of these guys means that I have had to learn to change speeds more effectively and use my body so I can take advantage of my strengths. The style of the game is also different. The pro game is more free-flowing and less structured, which is a big change from CCAA basketball.
Q: What are some things you learned while at UC San Diego that you have found valuable now?
Adam: While there has been a learning curve for me, there are plenty of things I took from my time at UC San Diego that translate to the pro game and lifestyle. Attitude is important in any profession and it’s no different here. I think the toughness, discipline, and perseverance that were so important to be a successful UC San Diego player and student have been hugely important for me. Being a rookie in a new place and a new league is tough, but sticking to the principles that got me to this point has helped me adjust.
Q: Is the team popular and are games well-attended?
Adam: The fans have been great here, from the season ticket holders to the person who’s never been to a game. We get good crowds at pretty much every home game and the city is super supportive of us. Just walking around town, you are often recognized by people who have come to games and are big River Lions fans. The kids in and around St. Catherines love the guys on the team and it’s a ton of fun to go visit their schools and sign autographs after the game. They treat us like celebrities whether we win or lose and it’s a lot of fun meeting them and talking with them.
Q: Describe life in St. Catherines. Is it at all reminiscent of Anchorage?
Adam: Super reminiscent. It’s hard to put it into words, but the feeling I get from living in both places is very similar. It's probably been a little warmer here than I remember from most of my time in Anchorage in the winter, but it has a similar climate. I think I was a little bit softened by living in San Diego for four years and it took me a little bit to get used to the cold again. It’s a smaller city than San Diego, but it still has plenty of people and things to do. One thing you notice right away is how friendly everybody is. I know Canada has a reputation for having a ton of nice people, and my experience certainly backs it up. I’ve really enjoyed my time here and getting to know a little bit about this region of Canada.
Q: What do you do with your free time?
Adam: I definitely have a lot more free time than I did at school and it's been an adjustment to figure out what to do with it. I try to stay in the loop with my academic work when I can, knowing that I will return to school in the future. But I have also been learning to play the guitar and have taken up Yoga as well. I have some teammates who I live with that I hang out with a bunch, too. Sometimes it's been nice to just do nothing, a luxury that you don’t have as often being a UC San Diego student.
Q: Do you still follow UC San Diego athletics?
Adam: I love following UC San Diego athletics. I’ll admit that since basketball season ended it dropped off a bit, but I still like to know how the teams are doing and specifically how people I went to school with and know are doing. I watched a lot of the men’s basketball games that didn’t interfere with my own games and a few women’s games as well. I’ve been following most of the teams throughout the year. It helps when pretty much every sport is successful. It's been weird being an alum watching from afar, but there is a sense of pride that goes along with it that makes it fun as well.
Previous Triton Q&A Features
3/23/18: David Hadler (Men's Fencing)
12/20/17: Taylor Tanita (Women's Basketball)
11/16/17: Arman Momdzhyan (Men's Water Polo)
11/11/17: Ella Verhees (Women's Cross Country)
11/1/17: Katie O'Laughlin (Women's Soccer)
10/23/17: Adam Navigato (Men's Golf)