As it turns out, that burden never fully went away.
“It was a big time struggle, a tough decision for me and I think I was a little stubborn on it,” Anderson said. “That’s what led me to, I don’t want to say the wrong decision, but not the right one.”
A little more than 20 months after initially turning down the Badgers, Anderson decided to take what he called a leap of faith for a chance to chase his dream.
After just one season, Anderson made a surprising announcement that he was leaving the Phoenix program and transferring to Wisconsin Wednesday with three seasons of eligibility remaining.
“(My family) always talked about not having regrets,” Anderson said. “This was something I would regret if I didn’t try it,”
Anderson started the first 20 games last season as a true freshman for the Phoenix before missing the final 12 with a fracture back. He averaged 9.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 20 outings, scoring in double figures his first five games and had a career-high 23 points in a win over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in December.
It was around that time that Anderson started to have second thoughts about bypassing the Badgers.
“If I’m not enjoying something to the fullest, and my mind and heart is somewhere else, there’s really no point in doing that,” Anderson said. “That’s what I dealt with after the season, kind of during the season. I just always thought what if what if.”
Having spoken to his family throughout the process, Anderson took the injury as a sign that everything happens for a reason. He was granted his transfer request on Tuesday (with no restrictions), spoke at length with assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft and head coach Greg Gard later in the day and made the announcement Wednesday.
“They were both pretty fired up,” Anderson said.
Gard cannot comment on Anderson until he passes Wisconsin admissions.
While he will have to sit out the 2017-18 season per N.C.A.A. transfer rules, Anderson bolsters a scholarship guard group that is limited currently to sophomore D’Mitrik Trice, redshirt sophomore Brevin Prtizl and incoming freshman Brad Davison and Kobe King.
The state’s co-2016 Mr. Basketball Award winner, Anderson averaged 24.6 points, 4.4 assists, 64 percent shooting and 87.6 percent free throw shooting as a senior. He also shot 55 percent from 3-point range (66-120).
He scored 2,360 points during standout high school career, which is the eighth-most points in the history of Wisconsin high school basketball, but only generating scholarship offers from schools like Drake, Lehigh and Toledo.
“The biggest knock on me for recruiting was how I would deal with supreme athletes and athleticism at that level,” Anderson said. “I think I did a good job (last year). I proved some people wrong, and I think I proved myself that I can play with these type of athletes. I know it’s going to be a lot different at the Big Ten level, but I think with this year of sitting out, getting a chance to work on my game and practice with the starters for Wisconsin, that’s going to give me another edge moving forward.”
With Wisconsin having only one scholarship available for 2018 (and using it to target Anderson’s former teammate – five-star center Joey Hauser), Anderson will pay his own way for his redshirt season and have a chance to earn a scholarship the following year. The Badgers are slated to have five scholarships available for 2019.
Whether he’s on scholarship or not is irrelevant for Anderson, who is anxious to get started on his new basketball journey.
“I’m confident kid and I’m going to work really hard,” Anderson said. “That’s how I go about my business. I’m not saying I for sure think I’m going to play. I understand the risks with it, but this is just something I want to do.”