The center position is often regarded as the most challenging to transition from the college level to the NBA.

That doesn't mean Sixers new big man and 41st overall selection in this week's draft Adem Bona will lighten his expectations for himself.

"Establishing myself as a contributor on the team. I want to be a part of something great. I want to be contributing to the team, not just one of the players on the team. So, that's one of my goals this year, to be able to be acknowledged and make a count of myself on the team," Bona told reporters at his introductory press conference on Friday.

He's wise enough to understand that his ticket to achieving that goal is to do the things that got him picked in the 2024 NBA Draft.

"Staying true to myself, do the things I do best. What the team needs me to do, I will do it. Doing what I do best, like, defensively, running the floor, using my athleticism. I think that's what's going to get me on the floor. So, I wouldn't deviate from that, try to do something new or different. I just got to do what I do best," Bona said.

Bona is under no illusions as to what that means.

"I think, for me, one of the things I would love to show this year is to be able to do everything defensively. On-ball, pick-and-roll, switching, that's one thing I think I would love to show my rookie year," he said.

A defense-first prospect, Bona claims that his prowess on that end of the floor started years ago and with his feet.

"Growing up, I played soccer. I think that helped with my speed, my agility, and my mobility - the way I move on the floor," Bona explained.

It didn't hurt that Bona got to learn from another adept defender during his time at UCLA.

"Playing at UCLA, I played behind the Defensive Player of the Year my freshman year, Jaylen Clark. I think that kind of opened my eyes to how much defense can make an impact on the game," Bona said.

"After playing off him, he left for the league, and I saw a lot from him and learned a lot from him. Obviously, we play different positions. But, the alertness, how quick he is on his feet to go after balls. I think that helped me understand how much defense can make an impact in a basketball game."

As for the offensive end of the floor, Bona wants to prove he can initiate plays, get out of the pick-and-roll, and play fast, the last one being one of his strengths.

Another one of his strengths is bringing an unrivaled level of energy to the game. And, man, does he know it.

"The one thing about me, you're always going to get all-out effort from me. Every time I step on the floor, I come out with all the energy I can give. I give everything for my team to get wherever we want to get to. I think Philly is going to be getting one of the hardest workers in the draft," Bona said confidently.

His motivation to be that type of player never dies.

"I'm always motivated. I'm always going to bring the motor in. I'm going to bring the energy. I feel like this was the perfect spot for me. This is where I wanted to be. This is part of the plan. Falling to the second round doesn't change anything for me. I'm still going to be the same person I am. Bring the same energy, bring the motor, bring the energy. That's what you're going to get from me all day long. Nothing else changes about me," Bona said.

The Nigerian-Turkish big man hoped that Philadelphia would be the one to call because Bona wants to play for a team that he feels can compete for a championship immediately.

Said Bona: "I felt like the team, Philly, was competing. I love to compete. This is one of the teams that will compete for a championship next year. They have a really great spot. They have really great players, like Tyrese [Maxey], Joel [Embiid]. I feel like they can do something great and being part of something great like that was huge for me."

Some young players might run away from jumping into the deep end of the pool immediately. For certain prospects, it can be more desirable to get your feet wet in smaller markets or in situations devoid of the pressure to win immediately.

Bona was exposed to that pressure early in his time at UCLA. It's a thrill he's never stopped chasing.

"From what [Jared McCain] said, I've always wanted to be on a team that competes. I played for UCLA, we were one of the best teams in college basketball my freshman year, which was really exciting. To learn from guys like Tyger [Campbell] and Jaime [Jaquez Jr.] my freshman year, it's really exciting. To be able to continue that in the league, to play for a team that's contending for the championship, that's really everything I wanted. Compete with the best and be up there with the best," Bona said.

His life in basketball is just getting started, and that means the lessons will come quickly and often. Bona will go from learning from teammates like Campbell, Jaquez, and Clark to learning from NBA staples like Embiid.

He has a good approach to what's coming.

"Joel is an amazing player. We have similar roots. He's African; I'm African, too. Playing against him, going against him every day is going to be a handful job for me. And also, it's going to be a learning process for me to be able to learn from such an amazing player. It's going to be a really good step for me towards my career and practicing against him every day, going against him in practice, I think that's going to help me with my progression," Bona said.

As if that wasn't enough of an adjustment, he'll have to go from playing between 30 and 40 games to being ready to play at least 82. Bona will prioritize the recovery process to keep his body fresh.

"I think recovery is really big to get through a long season. I love to take care of my body. I have a really long frame and I stretch a lot. So, I think taking care of my body is going to get me through the long stretch. I'm a big dude; I run, I jump, I bang. So, that's going to be a long season for me. But, I think recovery is huge and I love recovery so that's going to be amazing for me," he said.

Bona has already received some tips from confidants about getting through the daunting NBA season.

"Obviously, I spoke with Jaime, who was my teammate my freshman year. He's had his own fair share of injuries back in college. I asked him how did he go through the whole season like he had in college and the NBA is two times that and how did he manage to go through that and he gave me a little advice, which is, 'The little extra time you spend in the gym and the weight room takes you a long way. Like, the little time you spend, more massages, more cold tub. Those are the things that are going to get you through the long stretch'," Bona explained.

For now, Bona is just taking it all in, one day at a time. He was drafted on Thursday evening and sitting in front of Philadelphia media on Friday afternoon. That would be a whirlwind for anyone.

"It's been amazing. I felt everything at the same time; happiness, sadness, joy. Every emotion hit me at the same time. Just so unreal to get your name called. I still can't believe it. I'm an NBA player right now. We worked towards this goal every single day of our lives to get here and we're here now. So, it's pretty exciting," Bona said.

"It's been amazing. I spoke with the front office pretty much right after I got drafted. I could feel the energy through the phone. I could tell what the organization is about. They're hard-working, the expectations. It's an amazing program.

We're part of great things to happen. It's really exciting to be here. I can't wait to get to work."

Jason Kelce's 2024 Team 62 Fundraiser Event in Sea Isle City, New Jersey

Gallery Credit: Josh Hennig/Townsquare Media

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