One on One With Justin Anderson

One of the top overall players in the class of 2012 sat down with TDD to discuss a number of topics ranging from his time at Montrose Christian to which college programs have expressed early interest.

TDD: Recently you guys competed in the Montverde Tournament. It sounds like that was a real tough competition.

Justin Anderson: It was a really good tournament even though we had a tough time when it came to wins. I felt like, talent wise, it was one of the best tournaments we had played in, and I got a chance to match up against some big time talent.

In particular the point guard for Orlando Christian: he was really quick and I got put on him by Coach Vetter. I tried real hard to play lockdown defense against him because I knew it would help the team win. vAfter that, I got a chance to match up against the guy who's going to Villanova, James Bell. That was a really great experience for me, I had to work really hard on defense, and I felt like I did a solid job.

Usually high school players are more interested in talking about their offensive stats and such. You seem to focus more not the defensive challenge. Why is that?

My main priority is that I show everybody on my team - both players and coaches - that I can play REAL defense. I've always thought more about my defensive ability than my offensive ability. When it comes to my family, they have instilled in me the idea that defense wins games and that I can separate myself as a player by playing really good on that end of the floor. When I'm in the gym with Coach Vetter, Coach Stein, and my brother working on my game, I tend to focus a lot on my defense. The way I look at it, whether it be Montrose or whatever college I go to, they are going to have scorers, and I know that I can help the team first and foremost by being a lockdown defender.

It seems like your brother and family in general play a big part in your development.

Well, a lot of my family played sports themselves, so, we've got a real competitive family, but also one that has taught me to play ball the right way. My older brother played basketball for a division three school called Mary Washington, and my older sister and my dad, they both played basketball too. I've also got a cousin of mine who plays in the NFL for the New Orleans Saints, Jermon Bushrod right now. They've all taught me about how to have the proper mindset when it comes to basketball and how I go about my business both as a person and as a player.

That's a pretty mature approach for a high school sophomore, don't you think?

I've just learned that if you want people to take you seriously as a person and a player, they have to know that you're doing the right things. My cousin in the NFL tells me all the time to make sure I handle my business in a professional way, and that includes doing my schoolwork, listening to the coaches and being respectful of people. It's just important to do it the right way.

What has the experience at Montrose Christian done for you as a player on and off the court?

When I was in like 8th grade I was playing JV Basketball at the same high school that Josh Hairston was playing at before he came here (Courtland HS). My dad and I felt after that year that I needed to go someplace different, and since we had a relationship with Josh and also with the coaching staff at Montrose a little bit, my dad called them and they came and watched me at a few AAU events, and they made me the offer to come and be a part of the team.

I made the call to go to Montrose over going to Bishop O"Connell and it was a really hard decision. Knowing Kendall Marshall like I do, he was talking with me about Bishop O'Connell and Josh was talking with me about Montrose, but in the end I felt like I made a really good choice in coming to Montrose. We do all the things that big time college programs do because Coach Vetter will incorporate a lot of principles and things that colleges do with their teams, like Duke and UNC and many other schools. It's all about making you a man here, we wear a suit and tie to class everyday, it's all about being presentable, taking care of your academics, it's just been a great experience for me so far.

On that note, you're certainly familiar and maybe even a little used to seeing college coaches coming up. Can you run down who you've seen so far this year?

There have been a good amount of coaches - both head coaches and assistant coaches. I know I've seen Coach Barnes, Coach Capel, Coach K, Coach Roy Williams here before to watch me play, and I've seen a ton of assistants as well. That's the good thing about Coach Vetter, he's able to get a lot of coaches to come watch us play, and he also helps me when it comes to my recruiting, he'll let me know who's expressing interest in me and sending me mail, but he doesn't overburden me with it.

When you're not being recruited, are you a fan of the college game?

I try to watch as many games as I can. I've really enjoyed watching teams like Duke, Texas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Syracuse, Tennessee and Kentucky and many others this season. One thing I try to watch for when I'm watching the games is how do the coaches interact with their players. I really want to play for a coach who can be up off his seat on the bench, both challenging and cheering his guys on, but I also look to find out how they are in practice. I don't want a coach who's not going to challenge me in practice, I like a coach who will demand a lot of me, but is also supportive of me when I make a good play or do something good on defense.

Are you putting on a kind of scouting hat when you watch? Watching the different styles of play, maybe?

Yes, I sure do watch the style of play. Being here at Montrose, we play a much slower pace and that's OK, we get out and run when we can. When I think about college I think I kind of prefer a team that will just go all the time, but I also see the value in teams that can both slow it down and also grab the boards and go. When I watch a team like Georgetown, they seem to run a much slower offense, and they have a great big man, same thing with Syracuse, they run a slower pace as well. When I think of teams that play a really fast style, obviously I look at a team like Texas and Kentucky. Duke to a point does it, they seem to have a nice blend to what they do, and I know it's going to be different for them because they are bringing in some different recruits next year, so, they may end up running a lot more.

It focusing on the various teams, it appears you're paying a great deal of attention to the schools recruiting you.

To a point, I do. I more so like to watch programs where they have guys that I know, but I do try to stay aware of what kind of players teams are bringing in. Like with Duke, I've got a good level of familiarity with them now because I know that Josh is going there and he's telling me about Kyrie Irving and how he's one of the best point guards in the country, so with him and Josh and Tyler Thornton, they've got a nice class coming in.

Speaking of the Duke recruiting class of 2010, they had gotten involved with Terrance Ross after he de-committed from Maryland. Now he's transferred from Montrose. Was that a bit of a shock for the team?

I don't really want to talk about that too much other than to say we were really shocked when we heard the news. It seemed like it came out of nowhere. We're going have to move forward as a team, and we'll see how things goes.

With a big summer coming up for you on the AAU circuit, how are you preparing?

The way I look at it…I don't really go into the summer seeking the spotlight. I don't want to make it seem to my teammates like I'm trying to be the man and not allow them to have their moment too. I'm all about the team, and I know that we got some guys who were younger guys who played a lot with the senior team for Boo last year, and we've got a good nucleus of guys coming up from Boo's younger team so I'm just trying to go in and contribute and make plays.

I've got a really busy summer lined up, I know I'm doing some stuff with Team USA; I'm going to LeBron and Paul Pierce's camps; and we're doing a lot of the main summer events too. Should be real exciting and busy.

Last question. In playing at Montrose and with the Boo Williams travel team(s), you've been exposed to a lot of guys who have moved on to big time college programs. Do they ever talk with you about their schools and try to get in your ear a bit, or do they give you some space?

I mean they all talk to me about their schools and how excited they are about going there, but they don't put a lot of pressure on me. I'm like the little brother of the group to them and they do a good job at just letting me be me and go through my process, but for sure knowing those guys, it's going to be good for me because next year when I get ready to start going on some visits to schools I'd like to visit schools that have guys there that I'm familiar with. So those schools will be easier for me to visit and learn about the coaching staff and the schools and how they do things since I'll have friends there.

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