Friday, June 3, 2011

the recruit: Justin Anderson

Name: Justin Anderson
Position: SF
Hometown: Montross, VA
School: Montrose Christian (MD)
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 210

24/7: 97; four stars
ESPN: 94; four stars; #13 SF; US #54
Rivals: five stars; #3 SF; US #23
Scout: four stars; #6 SF

Other offers: Maryland, Texas, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, Georgetown, Louisville, no doubt a million others - Anderson could've gone to "any college he want[ed]" but hasn't been one to flaunt his offers.  Those are what I could find, but I'll go out on a limb and say a few other schools were probably interested.

First Justin Anderson, then lacrosse.  Pretty awesome week to be a Hoo, not so much to be a Terp.

Anyway, this is unfamiliar ground.  Anderson is the first five-star basketball recruit to choose UVA since....I dunno, since Ralph Sampson, I guess, if they'd had star-ratings back then.  So, basically ever.  Sylven Landesberg was a McDonald's kid but even he never got that coveted fifth star.  (Anderson is four stars to everyone but Rivals, but I'm semi-quasi-media, and according to the media one five-star rating is all you need.  Boom, you're a five-star.)  So I hardly know where to begin.

Let's start with a list of some of the adjectives assigned to Anderson's athleticism:

- Freakish
- Hellacious
- Elite
- God-given-off-the-charts

The basic scouting report on Anderson is this: wicked athlete, tenacious defender and rebounder, needs work on his shooting.  People might wonder how he'll fit into the lineup with so many similar players already on the team or on the way: Joe Harris, KT Harrell already here, Paul Jesperson coming in the fall, Evan Nolte arriving with Anderson in 2012.  All are 6'5"-6'7" types (Anderson is listed at 6'5" by most of the sites but it's been suggested at times he's a legit 6'7") who pretty much fall under the "wing" umbrella.

Me, I don't worry.  Anderson's skill set is just that different.  Harrell doesn't go straight to the hoop much, and Harris has deceptive slashing ability but only to a point.  Minutes might get a little cloggy but these guys are all different enough that it's not hard to envision three of them on the court at once.

Anderson's numbers aren't crazy gaudy - he averaged 14 ppg in this past season at Montrose, solid but not going to jump you out of your seat.  Well, not his scoring numbers, anyway.  He also grabbed 7 boards and chipped in two blocks and two steals a game as well.  It's that kind of well-roundedness that Tony Bennett just loves.  Play elite defense and you have a fan in Tony Bennett.  Anyway, it's really the teams Anderson plays on that raise eyebrows.  Montrose is a powerhouse, ranked #3 in the country in USA Today's high school rankings.  Anderson's AAU team is the heralded Boo Williams squad.  And he's got another little side project going on during his summers: winning the gold on Team USA's U17 squad.  As Yogi Berra would say, Anderson's kinda young for his age, being one of the few class of 2012 players on that team and the youngest player on the whole squad.  Even if Anderson ends up as a Burger Boy (likely) I don't think he'll have better company than he does on Team USA: Duke's Quinn Cook, UNC's James McAdoo, Kentucky's Marquis Teague and Mike Gilchrist, just to name a few of the five-star wunderkinds Anderson was selected to play with.

It's funny how the dominos fall.  When Maryland's Jordan Williams announced his intention to stay in the draft, that was cool, but who'd've thunk this would be the result?  That decision was supposedly one of the catalysts for Gary Williams' retirement; in the main, Williams is a stand-up guy who hates - hates - having to deal with the shitty people on the fringes of the game: the handlers, sketchy coaches, agents, runners, quasi-scouts, shoe reps, and various other people looking to make a quick buck by dangling fame and fortune in front of bling-eyed kids who gravitate toward swag like Charlie Weis to the donut buffet.  As the story goes, Williams might have been tossing retirement around in his head but the Jordan Williams decision - likely influenced by some of the above shady characters - was the last straw.  So he decided he'd had enough.  Justin Anderson always had his eye on Maryland, and it was no surprise whatsoever when he picked them in March, but mainly he had his eye on playing for Gary Williams and his lead recruiter, Rob Ehsan.  Ehsan wasn't retained by Mark Turgeon and left for Blacksburg, so Anderson, not having his two favorite Maryland coaches around any more, went with another guy who'd worked up a good relationship: Tony Bennett.

So Anderson will get here as part of Tony Bennett's best recruiting class yet.  In fact, the best in a long, long time.  Rivals has 'em down as a five-star and two four-stars in the outstanding Evan Nolte and the skyrocketing Mike Tobey.  If Bennett can also land a terrific point guard (L.J. Rose?) it'd be mind-boggling and probably enough to boost the class into top-five status nationally.  Jontel Evans will be a senior when Anderson gets here so it's not a desperate need to get a point guard in 2012, but man, that would be the time to get one.  A 2013 PG like Nate Britt or Big Cat Barber is a must.

But I digress.  How will Anderson fit in?  Like I said above, really well.  He's that guy who can get to the hoop on demand.  If Malcolm Brogdon can also be that guy, it'd be a dimension that Tony Bennett didn't have this year.  He's assembling a deep and deadly lineup of shooters, but that's only so useful if you don't also have someone who the defense is legitimately scared of with the ball in their hands.  And while the pack-line defense has turned mediocre defenders into really good system defenders, Anderson adds a new wrinkle to it.  It's already hard to drive on UVA if the pack-line is clicking, but Anderson is the kind of guy who can actually punish teams for trying.  In a perfect world, UVA has a nice season in 2011-2012 and goes to the tournament as maybe a 10 or 11 seed, and then the 2012 recruiting class shows up, headlined by Justin Anderson, and Tony Bennett's team really and truly arrives to stay.

For your edification, the hoops depth chart is now updated with Anderson.  Huzzah.

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