I got my first look at Junction City, Arkansas standout James Anderson tonight in Orlando at the Super Showcase. I tend to check everything out when I see a kid play for the first time from the way he carries himself with his teammates to how he warms up, and how he interacts with his coach. My initial impressions of Anderson were real quiet kid -- real smooth game.
Everything he does seems so effortless and I mean that in a good way, but unfortunately for the first couple of quarters, the 6-6 small forward’s game remained quiet.
With Arkansas head coach Stan Heath in the house, Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel, and Kansas assistant Joe Dooley looking on, James failed to score early and was actually pulled two minutes into the game. After sitting most of the quarter, the 2007 stud scored his first hoop on a sweet gliding move thru the lane that he kissed off glass. The type of hoop that would make Bill Raftery pucker up and shout, “with the kiss!!” But those were Anderson’s only two points of the half. The best was yet to come.
By the time this game ended the versatile Arkansas Wings standout showed his entire repertoire and the reason why his talents are coveted by some big name schools.
His transition game is a must have with a mean handle and a ton of speed in the open floor. KU fans would love to see him leading the break someday. He’s one of those players that head coach Bill Self loves – a kid that can corral a rebound and get it and go. I didn’t see much of that rumored rebounding prowess I had heard so much about early, but Anderson finally featured that part of his game during an active third and fourth quarter.
James plays on a team that runs a solid motion offense and he certainly does move without the ball well – a lost art in this day and age certainly at this level. Once he gets it, he squares up, goes to the triple threat position, and has a terrific jab step. He’s fundamentally sound but also jam-packed with athleticism. That athletic ability is displayed every time he puts the ball on the floor. He definitely favors his moves off the bounce in the half court. It’s a lightning quick first step, and once he looks to convert, the body control is uncanny. Like I said earlier – he’s just smooth.
The book on Anderson states he likes to play well in spurts, well, the third quarter featured one of those active runs by the Wings’ wingman at both ends of the floor. He scored three quick points, converted a layup at one end, blocked a shot on the next possession, and then attempted to convert another steal but he was fouled on the drive. With under a minute to go in the quarter Anderson showed his range by canning an open three from the wing. He’s got nice rotation on his shot but his free throw suffered a bit in this one as he went 4-8 from the charity stripe.
In the fourth quarter, James finally exerted himself on the glass. He can really sky and get above the rim. He also dropped a couple of really pretty dimes – both of which his teammates weren’t ready for.
In a game where Anderson ultimately displayed the full arsenal the KU target collected 15 points and three rebounds in a 61-46 Wings win. By the way, those were three MAN-SIZED rebounds.
- Anderson’s team is now 2-0 in Pool play and will play again on Tuesday at 4pm.
- Assistant coach Joe Dooley will remain in Orlando thru Wednesday and then head back to the West Coast. Head coach Bill Self will arrive in Orlando on Wednesday morning.
- Though there are a few KU prospects from the class of 2007 here, most of the focus in Orlando will be on the class of 2008.