Terps Grab a Star in Anderson

The Maryland basketball team received much needed good news when Thursday Justin Anderson committed.

It is no secret to the world of college basketball that the Washington D.C./Baltimore area is a hotbed for some of the best young talent in the country. Terps faithful have watched year after year as local products such as Durant, Beasley and Selby have packed their bags and taken their talents to basketball powerhouses in the Midwest, barely sparing a passing glance at their hometown program in College Park. One of the few knocks on Gary Williams during his 22 year reign at the helm of the Maryland basketball program has been his inability to not only reel in, but garner interest from some of these highly-touted local recruits.

However, much to the delight of the Maryland faithful, it seems this trend is changing for the better. After highlighting their recruiting class of 2011 with Nick Faust, a four-star standout from Baltimore, the Terps snagged another huge local product to start off their class of 2012.

Justin Anderson, a 6-foot-7, 225 pound junior from Montrose Christian in Rockville, MD announced his commitment to the University of Maryland on Thursday during a press conference held at his school. Anderson had narrowed down his choices to Maryland, UNC and Virginia. Among the other schools to contact Anderson included Duke, Villanova, Georgetown and Washington.

“I never had a formal offer from UNC, but I had been down to Chapel Hill and had talked to coach Williams and it was made clear that if I wanted to go there I would have a scholarship waiting for me”, said Anderson. Anderson had been in talks with Duke earlier on in the season but in the end the four-star standout decided to stay home. “The location of Maryland was one of the biggest factors for me with the Comcast Center being 20 minutes away from my school”, he stated.

Among the major draws to Maryland, Anderson really harped on one: head coach Gary Williams. “The major factor in my decision to go to Maryland was the great coaching staff, especially Coach Williams. I really just admire his intensity on the sideline and his love for the game and he is definitely someone I could see myself playing for.” Among the other draws to Maryland, Anderson stated the ability to be able to make an impact as a freshman. Throughout the recruiting process Anderson had been primarily in talks with Assistant Coach Rob Ehsan and had made a number of visits to College Park.

When watching some of Anderson's highlights, the first thing that will jump out at any viewer is his freakish athleticism. At 6-foot-7, Anderson possesses a 38 inch vertical leap, claiming that he first dunked a basketball the summer after his 5th grade year. “Athleticism with strength, that's what really separates Justin as a player from the other great athletes”, said Justin's legendary Montrose Christian coach, Stu Vetter. “It's no secret that Justin can jump, but what makes him special is that he can jump with such power.” Vetter has seen great players come and go at Montrose, including former Terps great Greivis Vasquez, and says Justin has the potential to be one of the best. “Justin just brings a tremendous amount of energy and versatility to the basketball court. He can play inside or he can play outside, and the exciting thing is that he still has a lot of room to improve.”

When asked about the strengths and weaknesses of his game, Anderson stated, “My strengths and my weaknesses are all the same. I still can work on all aspects of my game and improve overall because there's no one thing that I feel I'm 100% great at.” Vetter was quick to agree with Anderson's assessment of his game claiming, “Justin is a great player with a great basketball IQ, but there's still a lot of things that he can work on and he knows that.”

As a junior, Anderson has averaged around 14 ppg, 8 rpg and 4 apg for his 22-1 Montrose Christian team, ranked 3rd in the nation. Some might say such a large commitment as a junior might be a distraction for an individual and his team, but Anderson was quick to establish his priorities. “Today was a great day for me and my family but tomorrow I move on. I am going to get back in the gym and put in the work just like I've done every other day. My focus is on the High School National Championships (March 31st at Georgetown Prep), and I am not going to let my college decision get in the way of our team's goals.”

This doesn't mean Anderson isn't looking forward to his days at Maryland however, as he made his college goals quite clear. “I'm looking forward to putting up a national championship banner at Maryland. It's every college players dream and there's no reason we shouldn't be able to do it. The fans and the alumni there are so committed to their team and they put so much of their energy behind the players that it would be something special to give them a national title.” According to Coach Vetter, the energy and animation of the Terps faithful is very fitting to Justin as a player. “Justin is a very well-spoken and a very well rounded nice young man and you'll find that with a lot of our players. He's also a personality on the court and he enjoys that role. Just as I felt Maryland was the place where Greivis could be Greivis, I also feel it's the place where Justin can be Justin. When he started getting serious about looking at college programs, we both felt that Maryland was the place where he could thrive with his incredible enthusiasm and energy for the game. I have no doubt in my mind that Maryland is the right fit for Justin and that one day he'll be a premier player in the ACC.”

Playing behind such talent in high school as Mouphtauo Yarou, Isaiah Armwood and Josh Hairston, Anderson has had to wait his turn to be in the spotlight. Now that it's his turn to shine he is handling all of the attention like a professional. “We have TV cameras at all of our practices because hoopsacademy.tv does a weekly show on our program. As a result our guys are constantly in the eye of the media, and that's why you'll find that all of our players are so well spoken and carry themselves so well. Look at the reputation that Kevin Durant (Montrose alum) has in the NBA. I have no doubt that Justin will not only be a fan favorite, but also he'll be a role model for the younger kids because he is such a great example for them” said Coach Vetter.

There is no doubt that Anderson is just the type of player that Maryland needs. Not only is he explosive on the offensive end, but he is also heralded as one of the top defensive presences in the country. His explosive athleticism and sound outside game should be an invaluable compliment to the developing guard play of current Terps such as Terrell Stoglin and Pe'Shon Howard. Bringing in such a talent as Anderson as the cornerstone of their 2012 recruiting class could open numerous doors for Maryland in terms of players that follow after him. Needless to say this signing is going to create a much needed buzz around College Park that hasn't been heard in quite some time.

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