Even after a couple of stops in recent years – to let off five-star Jarell Martin and, soon, four-star Brandon Sampson – the train keeps rolling at Madison Prep.
The Baton Rouge charter school continues to grow into one of the state’s perennial powers on the hardwood, having already moved from Class B ball to 1A in Louisiana with a move to 2A next season on the docket.
And with the progressive steps up in competition comes a 2017 prospect that has a chance to be the best Charger yet, at least according to head coach Jeff Jones.
“Josh Anderson can climb as high as any of those guys,” Jones explained. “Brandon sometimes as a youngster was a little laid-back, and I think that kinda hurt him a little bit in spots, but as he got older he figured it out more and started to go at people more and more. Josh has been in attack mode since he’s been here.
“That’s going to help him, but he’ll be a high-major prospect, just as high as these other guys.”
Anderson, the top sophomore in the state in TSD’s initial 2017 class rankings, first arrived on campus at Madison Preparatory Academy during his eighth-grade year, a transfer from Central Private. By rule he had to sit out a calendar year, which only left Anderson a handful of games to play in as a freshman.
Basically the young two-guard had MPA’s run through the 1A state playoffs. And he didn’t disappoint.
“He came in ready, probably more ready than any freshman we’ve had,” recalled Jones. “Josh played in nine games, led us in scoring seven of the nine games. I knew then he had a chance to be special.”
The rail-thin transfer averaged 14 points and three rebounds over the nine-game stretch, which culminated in a narrow loss to Country Day in the state title game.
As a sophomore, now standing 6-foot-4 and up to 174 pounds, Anderson has broadened his game. The player Jones calls a “natural wing scorer” kick-started the campaign with a 27-point performance at St. Michael (Baton Rouge), out-shining both Sampson, committed to St. John’s (NY), and Cincinnati-bound Jacob Evans.
He also made the all-tournament team at a loaded Madison Prep Classic, which the Chargers won, and more impressively was voted all-tourney at the Lighthouse Classic in Mississippi, a run for Anderson that included scoring 26 against Callaway (MS) and five-star guard Malik Newman.
For the season he is MPA’s second leading scorer, behind Sampson, and is posting averages of 16 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals a game.
“Last year I was pretty much just a shooter,” Anderson leveled, “but I’m learning to get to the goal more this year.”
There’s been plenty more to the development of Anderson, already one of the state’s most dangerous offensive weapons.
“He’s grown a little taller. His body is starting to fill out a little bit,” conceded Jones, “But the way I’ve seen him grow most is the mental side and his worth ethic. Josh was always skilled, always better than all the kids his age, and it used to be he just used that to get by. Over the last two years, playing with Brandon and the kids here, he’s had to pick it up and step up. He’s putting in the extra work now. He’s in the weight room. Josh has an amazing desire and he really wants to be good. Probably one of the most coachable kids I’ve ever had, too.”
Part of Anderson’s pedigree that serves him well is having played against older competition most of his life. He has an older brother who plays at Mississippi College.
Of course it also didn’t hurt that several LSU players – including Martin and teammates Josh Gray and Tim Quarterman – frequented the Madison Prep gym this summer, giving Anderson a chance to ply his trade with and against bigger and more talented players during impromptu pickup games.
“He’s gotten a number of chances to play with them. I think it’s great for him,” Jones continued. “One, it shows him how far he has to go if he wants to get on that level. But also when he can do some things against those guys and experience some success, it gives him something to build on. I think it gave him confidence coming into this season. He’s had a lot of big games. He’s our second leading scorer and we’re a pretty deep, talented team. It’s nothing out of the ordinary for him.
“The game comes really easy to him. A lot of things he just does instinctively.”
On the recruiting front Anderson started to hear from a number of smaller schools, including Richmond, as early as this summer. During his sophomore season the ante’s been raised, as LSU, St. John’s and USC, all schools that were in on Sampson, have come knocking about Anderson, showing interest.
“That’s pretty much in the future,” Anderson told TSD on his outlook toward recruiting. “I know I want to stay close to my family if I can, and I want to go D-I, big school.”
One program has captured Anderson’s heart and mind to this point. “Kansas. That’s been my favorite school. I just like how they play, and I’ve really been a fan since I was a kid. I like the uniforms too.”
He’s not on that level yet. But, as Anderson reminded with a 25-point game earlier this week to clinch the district championship for Madison Prep, it wouldn’t be wise to bet against him getting there.
Josh Anderson is Louisiana's best in 2017
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