The announcement by the 6-foot-6 Anderson did not come as a surprise as he said last October that he expected the 2009-10 basketball season to be his last in a Cowboys uniform.
Anderson averaged 22.3 points per game this past season in earning Big 12 Player of the Year honors, and leading the Cowboys back to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season. OSU finished with a 22-11 record after suffering a first-round loss to Georgia Tech last Friday in the NCAA tourney.
He also received first team All-American recognition by the Sporting News, becoming the first OSU player to be honored by the national magazine since 1951.
"This decision was particularly difficult for me because the past three years have been a great experience," said Anderson. "I have grown so much as a person and as a basketball player. We have won a number of big games and reached the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons since I have been a student-athlete here."
Ford said, "This has been about James Anderson since day one. He could have left last year and been probably a mid-to-late first-round draft pick. He chose to stay because of this University.
"We talked about it a lot. He loves going to school here. He loves his teammates. He made a commitment. He made a sacrifice that few people probably would have made last year to come back and be a part of this University and this basketball family," Ford added.
If drafted in June, Anderson will be the first OSU player to be selected in the 2007 NBA Draft since JamesOn Curry was selected in the second round by the Chicago Bulls (51st overall). Since 2000, three OSU players have been first-round selections – Desmond Mason in 2000 (17th overall by Seattle), Tony Allen in 2004 (27th by Boston), and Joey Graham (16th by Toronto).
ESPN's Chad Ford projects Anderson to be the 17th player taken in the NBA Draft on June 24. The Cowboy junior is projected to be the 14th selection by the Houston Rockets on nbadraft.net, and draftexpress.com shows him being taken by the San Antonio Spurs with the 20th pick.
"What we've heard is very positive; all very, very good things," Ford said from visiting with officials from NBA teams. "We laid it all out there and I said, ‘James, what do you want to do? Don't worry about the basketball team, don't worry about me. This is about you and what's best for you.'
"He said, ‘I think I'm going to go.' And I said, ‘that's the right decision, I'm glad you said it'. He needs to move on. He's done a lot for this University and he's done a lot for this basketball program, now it's time to go to the NBA."
Here is a list of where Anderson will rank in the school record books:
** Anderson scored 735 points this past season which ranks second in school history, trailing only Bryant "Big Country" Reeves who scored 797 during the 1994-95 season.
** Anderson's 22.3 points per game average is third in school history behind Ed Odom's school-record 24.2 ppg in 1979-80 and Byron Houston's 22.7 ppg in 1990-91.
** Anderson began the season with a 15.8 points per game career scoring average, which was ninth best in school history. But after his outstanding junior season, his career scoring average is 17.9 points per game (1,811 points in 101 games), which moves him up to second behind Byron Houston (18.7).
** Anderson will leave OSU with the most points scored as a junior (735), most points scored as a sophomore (638) and second most points scored as a freshman (438).
** Anderson scored in double figures in his last 47 games as a Cowboy (the last time he didn't score 10 or more points was Feb. 4, 2009, when he finished with 7 points against Texas Tech). That string of double-digit scoring is the second longest streak in school history with only Reeves having more double-figure games (50).
** Anderson scored 20 or more points in 22 of the Cowboys' 33 games this past season, and 42 times during his three-year career. His 42 career 20-point games are the third most in OSU history, trailing only Reeves (56) and Houston (55).
** Anderson also had nine 30-point games during his career, including a career-best 37 points against Oklahoma on March 7, 2009 (which ties for seventh best in school history). His nine 30-point games trails only Houston (13) and Reeves (10).