HOOPS: Anderson Will Pare List In August

When James Anderson was a little guy, he dreamed of playing outfield in the major leagues someday. All that changed when he started growing taller than everybody else and someone put a basketball in his hands. One he discovered basketball, the bat and the glove went to the closet where they stayed.

(See James Anderson profile)

"My mom says I just quit baseball and fell in love with basketball one day," said Anderson, a 6-7 high flyer wing forward that averaged 32 points, 12 rebounds and five assists last year for Junction City, Arkansas. "I guess basketball just seemed more natural for me."

Ever since he quit baseball and started concentrating on basketball, he's drawn comparisons to plenty of athletic wing forwards. Because he's from Arkansas, which is Southeastern Conference territory, he's heard comparisons to the Brewers the last two years --- Ronnie, the 6-7 Arkansas small forward that was a first round draft pick of the Utah Jazz, and Corey, Florida's 6-8 lock down defender that helped the Gators win the NCAA championship back in March.

He's got an offensive game that's similar to Ronnie Brewer in that he's a big time finisher on the fast break and quite capable of putting the ball on the floor and driving it all the way to the rack. He does have a more consistent jumper than Ronnie Brewer, however, and he can light it up from three-ball land. Defensively, the comparisons with Corey Brewer are on the mark. He's got long arms and the quickness to defend guards or forwards and he has few peers as an open court defender. He can even go into the post to defend taller players if necessary because he jumps so well. His all-around game is so good that he had several triple-doubles last year and they weren't all the conventional points-rebounds-assists.

He's proven he can score just about any time he wants at the high school level. Playing with the Arkansas Hawks AAU team, he's competed against the nation's top prospects this spring and summer in the 17-and-under division and he's shown that he's up to that task as well. At the Nike Peach Jam last weekend, he showed that he's an athletic small forward that can get up and down the floor. His offensive game was off a bit at the Peach Jam but he still got his points off his defense and rebounding.

"My legs felt dead from Nike camp," he said. "That threw my shot off I think. We played a lot of games at Nike and then we got there [Peach Jam] and it was just too many games in a row for me to get my legs back. It was fun though.

"I think I played pretty good on defense. I think I showed I can lock down on defense."

Right now he's got a favorite's list that includes Florida, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, LSU, Alabama, Kansas and Kentucky. He's planning to start cutting the field down to four or five in August and then he'll take his official visits.

"I'm going to take my trips and then decide after I see what's on campus," he said. "If I find what I like, I'll sign in November but if I don't, then I'll wait until the spring."

He said he's already qualified on the ACT and in the classroom he says he's a solid A-B type of student. He hasn't decided on a major for when he goes off to college but says that right now he'd like to do something that will keep him around the game of basketball the rest of his life.

"I love the game," he said. "I'd like to coach kids and help them the way that coaches helped me."

Among teammates, Anderson is easy going and quick to laugh but he's a little bit shy and introverted among strangers. The school that lands his commitment will be the one that has coaches that are able to get past the quiet exterior.

"Where I go has to be where I have a good relationship with the coaches," he said. "That's going to be the most important thing."

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