In basketball and in life, versatility is always a celebrated virtue. Bobby Anderson is definitely a versatile individual. He's a full-time fireman who also excels as a basketball coach. He has the determination to help every kid that joins his AAU team, the 16U Peoria All-Stars. During this past AAU season, Anderson's team finished 8th in the Illinois state tournament and 11th at July's national competition in Orlando.
Watching his All-Stars play you can tell this is all about the kids to him. "My job is to make a big impact on all my kids," Anderson said. "I tell them all the time basketball is like life. Some days you have good ones and other days nothing seems to go right, so you have to learn from the not-so-good days and make the best of them and move on to the next one. Sometimes people forget that a lot of these kids don't have the best living situation and I feel as an adult it's my job to help create the best situation possible for them."
Anderson has noticed a trend for some of our star athletes and that's the struggle to get into college. "I know a lot of people want to blame this person or that person, that's not right, it's about trying to help to make sure all our kids have a chance," Anderson stated. "We just have to get everyone on the same page - parents, teachers, guardians, and coaches. We hear the good and bad of AAU coaches and high school coaches, but it's like life you have good people and bad people in everything so we should get the credit when we're really trying to help kids."
Peoria has produced some of the best players in all of high school basketball but to Anderson it's about making these young boys into men and helping to get every single one of them into college. "I do have some good talented players," Anderson acknowledged. "Kentucky, UNI, Iowa, and Bradley have all shown interest in some of my players." Anderson indicated that Tylon Deal, Keelan Prince, Aaron Davis, Tony Frazier, and Tony Banks have all received a lot of attention.
How good were the Peoria All-Stars this season? Anderson feels they were very close to making a major national statement in Orlando. "My kids played well all week," Anderson said. "They can defend and they did a great job of taking things away from other teams."
The 5'11" Deal did himself a lot of favors with his play and is sure to gain additional attention as he starts his junior year. But the All-Stars were at a disadvantage as Keelan Prince and Richwoods High School big man T.J. Cole, the brother of current Illinois player Bill Cole, weren't with the team in Florida.
"I know you have to be partial because you're doing the interview, but if Keelan would have played we would have won the entire tournament," Anderson declared. "He presents so many match-up problems for teams. Being 6'5" he takes advantage of smaller forwards on the block. He can shoot the three as well as anyone in the state; he's the real deal."
Looking ahead, Anderson sounds enthused about the future.
"I'm going to do this again next summer, because I love all my boys," Anderson happily expressed. "Late in the week, we lost a game, and I was having a tough time because I didn't want our season to end. My boys could tell. Every one of them put their arms around me and told me we did great, and thanked me for believing in them."
And Anderson has plenty of confidence in his team.
"Next year when everyone is there, the Peoria All-Stars will bring home a national title."