"I think it was the best decision I have ever made in my entire life," Anderson said of his decision to take
a redshirt year. "I think I built more strength, more quickness and I built up my shot a little more. The
main thing is my confidence."
Anderson keeps touting confidence as being the thing he needed to add. Although strength and quickness were obvious improvements he needed to make, confidence is what he keeps coming back to.
"You have to have confidence when you come into the game," Anderson said. "Last year that redshirt year matured me. It tought me to have more confidence in myself. My freshman and sophomre years I would go on streaks where I would have two games with 15 or 16 points, then come back and have zero or two points."
That streakiness left a lot of Wildcat fans puzzled. Anderson came to Arizona with the reputation of being a bigtime shooter. Flashes of his stroke would appear, but then he'd go into a prolonged slump. This year the junior expects to be a consistent shooter.
"I can say I'm a better shooter right now, but half of shooting is mental. If you get out there and don't
have the mental aspect of shooting, then that's a problem. My shooting has improved with my confidence. My technique and form is the same. You are going to see the same Rick, but I'll make more shots because of my confidence."
Not only was redshirting beneficial for Anderson, but so was hi summer. Anderson was invited to be a
counselor at the Nike Camp in Indianapolis. One of the benefits in attending was that he was able to work
with NBA scouts and scrimmage with collegiate greats like Kareem Rush, Drew Gooded and Brent Nelson.
"I worked on it all summer with NBA scouts," Anderson said. "I think that boosted my confidence a lot.
Basketballwise the Nike camp was a great experience for me. We had all these great players. It boosted my game confidencewise as well. Playing with those guys, I know I can hang with the best in the nation."
Another boost to Anderson's confidence is his position change. Anderson came to Arizona as a wing player, but now he will see the bulk of his playing time at the four (power forward) spot.
"I love playing the four," Anderson said. "I love being around the basket. I can play at the four. There
will be a lot of match-up problems with me playing the four. If there's a small guy on me I can post him up. If there's a big guy on me I can step outside."
With his versatility many have thought that Anderson will see playing time with two of the Wildcats' other combo-forwards, Luke Walton and Danis Latimore. Although the trio would create match-up nightmares, they could cause a defensive liability.
"I don't think we'll see the three of us out there," said Anderson. "I think we need a true center out
there. It's hard because we don't have a true center right now. But with guys like Isaiah Fox and Andrew
Zahn and there strength they can become a true center. They got to run the floor if they want to become a
center. When we play teams like UCLA, with a good center like (Dan) Gadzuric we have to have Isaiah and Andrew in. They have to step it up with becoming a big man. We need the size I think."
With added confidence comes increased leadership. As one of the most experienced players on the club,
Anderson relishes the role.
"I feel very comfortable," Anderson says of being a leader. "Being one of the leaders with Luke (Walton)
and Jay (Jason Gardner) is hard, but in a way it's not. I kind of analysed Jason's leadership in the past
years. I watched him last year when he was on the court. There are little things that the players feed
off of. I think it makes it easier for me to be a leader with Jason by my side."
This story originally ran in Cat Tracks Magazine, for more information:
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