James Anderson Gets His Senior Day

The ring on my cell phone signaling a text message went off and I saw the time on the clock was 12:05 a.m. I glanced at the phone to see that Oklahoma State basketball had scheduled a news conference at 1 p.m. Monday. It was too late for my brain to ponder what that could mean. In fact, in the morning I had to think to make sure I wasn't dreaming and the text was really delievered.

Later I would be told by men's basketball sports information director Mike Noteware that he had to wait for the OK Blitz to air statewide on Channel 9 and Channel 6, so they would not get a late Sunday scoop after going on late following overtime action in the very NCAA Tournament that would be the last time James Anderson would suit up in a Cowboy uniform.

It was short notice but that didn't seem to matter, especially to Anderson's fellow students and the people that put the rowdy in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

The date was Saturday, March 6, inside the hallowed arena when Obi Muonelo was honored as the only senior on this season's Oklahoma State team. The squad enjoyed a rousing 74-55 win as Muonelo got the attention.

While it was the final home game for the popular Edmond native you get the feeling as close as Muonelo and Anderson are, he would have gladly shared his Senior Day spotlight.

It's okay because as 1 p.m. neared inside the O-Club room in Gallagher-Iba Arena, the room filled with people. Every seat was taken as the fans, mainly students, filled the aisles on either side of the chairs in the room. They kept coming and stood behind the risers that were there for the television cameras.

Then all of his teammates filed in and stood behind the podium. James Anderson had an announcement to make. He had decided to go to the NBA, but his fans, even with such late notice, were there to show him how much he meant to Oklahoma State. This was James Anderson's Senior Day come early.

"Yeah in a way, it sorta surprised me too and I didn't think that many people would come because it was so late (that the release on the press conference went out)," said Anderson of the turnout. "Like I said I just thank everybody for coming out and I'm just glad it turned out what it turned out to be."

Anderson cares about those people, but he has others to care about. Head coach Travis Ford said the subject never came up during the season. They never discussed Anderson's future beyond this season which is why he was very curious when Anderson called him on Sunday and wanted to talk.

"I didn't know what he was going to say," said Ford. "I wanted to know and when he said he wanted to go, I thought yes, that is the right decision."

"Yeah, I thought about it Friday night and all day Saturday," explained Anderson. "I talked to coach and to my high school coach and my family and I felt like it was time for me to go and all of them agreed with me."

The Big 12 Player of the Year, All-Big 12 performer, and first team All-American with the Sporting News and Yahoo Sports has accomplished a lot but not everything he wanted to get done in college. There is something else which is why he said he will stay in his classes this spring and work toward that diploma.

"I don't think I'm too far away," said Anderson. "That is something that I definitely want to go toward and that is another accomplishment and that is something that I promised my mother I would do."

"They don't make many like that," said Marilyn Middlebrook. "James is as good as it gets."

He sure is and Travis Ford says he hopes his boys grow up to be the same kind of person as James Anderson is. The coach said that is as good as it gets and he is not talking about basketball, but every other quality Anderson possesses. The basketball would be okay too.

That is why even though there was no game to watch and the news wasn't that James Anderson was staying but that he was going, the students and fans still turned out. Anderson was worthy of a Senior Day even if he will never be a senior on Gallagher-Iba's maple floor.

"I think we have some unbelievable fans and one of the most supporting groups, rowdies. Like I said, I wasn't expecting this many people to come out. It sort of surprised me, but I'm glad they came out the way they did," Anderson said.

So are the fans, and they are really glad Anderson showed up and stayed for three highlight-filled seasons.


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