Thanks to class of 2012 small forward Justin Anderson (#45 — Virginia) for doing the interview with us. He is a 6’7, 220 pound wing who attends Montrose Christian High School (Maryland) and is a Virginia-native. Anderson is a freak athlete who gets to the basket at will and is continuing to improve on his three-point shot. He will be participating in the Nike Peach Jam in July with his summer team, Boo Williams (Virginia), where they will try to take home the Championship.
The best part was being able to have so many different schools interested in you, that’s always a great thing to see all of your hard work is paying off and just being able to hear that you have a full ride or full scholarship to a particular college is always great, that’s one thing parents love to hear and I think that was the best part of the whole process.
Did you have any favorite schools growing up?
I never really had favorite schools. On the video games when it came to college basketball I was a big Duke follower — I wouldn’t say fan but I was really big on Duke when it came to the college basketball game due to [former Blue Devil] J.J. Redick, due to all the great guys they had, [former Blue Devil] Luol Deng, they were just great on the video game. And also, football, when it came to that video game, I was huge on Texas. So I really didn’t have a favorite college, I just went off how good I was with one team. I never particularly had a favorite college.
What was your least favorite part of the recruiting process?
Maybe the Facebooking, the chances that they (the fans) get to talk to you. You know, every coach, they all have limits so when they got out of those limits, or whatever they had, it seemed they all tried to contact me in that one time and it was very tough because maybe you couldn’t give the fourth coach that same energy you gave the first coach after talking to all of them on the phone. And you can’t really give them a good grasp of how you are and I think that’s the toughest part, the restrictions and the limitations that the coaches have.
How do you deal with all of the “haters” and people who try to put you down?
It’s tough, it definitely is tough just seeing some of that stuff it makes you wanna respond but responding won’t help it at all the only direction it will go is negative… me saying anything won’t help the situation, its best to just let the information be said. I realized I’m not the only guy or the only person in the world who’s ever had to go through this type of situation and once I realized that I told myself I have to be strong and that you know, fight through it, and hopefully one day it will all be over and I mean a lot of people say its haters and motivators and things like that, I mean I hope that’s what it is but I don’t look at it that way. I look at it as people showing their true character and all you can do is read and keep going with your life and continue to get better.
Back before I even made my announcement to Maryland, Virginia, of course a lot of people know, was my second option and I’ve always heard so many great things about [Virginia head coach] Tony Bennett it was just ridiculous. You know, coming from Washington State, hearing he had a winning record, guys he’s put out such as Kyle Weaver, and turned them into great players. One thing I really like about him as well is he’s a guard himself, he played in the league, he’s also a lefty, and those are all things that I want to be able to become, so I think he has the ingredients to help me get there.
What position do you plan on playing in college? Guard or forward?
I look at it as being a basketball player. I can play anything that the coaches want me to be. If they need me to be a guard — one, two or three — I can do that. If they need be to be a four or five, I can do that for them. I think that’s the most important thing whenever I know that I’ll do anything for my coach and I’ll play any position that he needs to play to the hardest. It just means I like the coach overall and I’ll do that for coach Bennett.
What do you like about Virginia that isn’t basketball-related?
The academic standard is just tremendous. Hearing that it’s one of the top five public schools in the country, the kids around my area and my hometown where I used to go to school when they heard it they were telling me they wish they could come but it’s just too hard because their G.P.A.’s aren’t high enough and it’s just a blast hearing that every time because luckily, I do have to worry about my G.P.A., but, luckily I get the opportunity to have a basketball scholarship to the school and then inherit a great education as well and that’s something I plan on taking just as serious because that could set your whole future up.
Do you like any specific academic programs at Virginia or just the general prestige of the school?
In general how prestigious it is, just reading up on some articles on how great the school is, finding negative feedback on the school’s academic side is almost impossible to find, there’s nothing but positive things being said from people who attended Virginia and who also didn’t attend Virginia.
Was there one particular moment when you said to yourself, ‘man, I definitely want to go to Virginia?’
It went back and forth, you know one day you love Maryland, one day you love Virginia, one day you love North Carolina, one day you love Duke, one day you love Texas, it’s just an ongoing thing and its tough because you have to find out exactly what fits you and luckily my top two schools were schools I didn’t have to think too much about. It was almost like a eeny, meeny, miny mo choice I could have went with, I would have been happy with either school, that’s why I didn’t take too much longer outside of my de-commitment from Maryland to announce that I was going to Virginia because it was just easy, it was expected, I think the Virginia people also expected that.
No, it was just my second option, I mean we could have waited and opened it up to all of the other schools and everything but I figured that would possibly be too chaotic just to come down and know I was going to Virginia anyway. It was tough but I know we made the right choice in Virginia right after the de-commitment and I don’t think it was too much of a downfall.
Why did you choose to commit when you did? Was it because you just wanted to get the recruiting process over with and get back to basketball?
Absolutely, at this age now being able to grow up and mature is not as glamorous as it seems. I wanted to get it over with so I could get back to what is most important because anyone can get recruited by any school and any coach can tell you who great you are but if you’re not producing you’re just any other guy at the school and I feel like that’s the most important part. Not to think recruiting and committing is the hardest part but I think the hard part is actually committing their and getting their and showing why you were a good recruit and I think that puts a burden on your back but I’m ready to take on that challenge.
Was anyone pushing you to go to a particular school?
Not really, I think a lot of people, my inner circle, people that I know from the school and Maryland, I think they all understood how stressful it was and who had my best interest at heart they understood how frustrating it was and how tough it was on me when it came down to making a decision and everything like that so I think they realized that it was just all better off left unsaid and let the chips fall where they may and I appreciate all of those people for that, because that added stress is just not good.
Who has helped you the most in the recruiting process?
Definitely my family, my inner circle, my best friend, they did their best to make it seem kind of fun and put it in a different perspective, because it got to a point where there was a lot of bashing going on. A lot of people coming at me in all different types of ways positive and negative and it got to a point where you never knew basketball was this stressful and right now I’m even stressed because I’m just thinking of ways to get better and the whole recruiting process and all of that falls under one category for me and that’s just stressful and I think the only way I’ve been able to get through it is because of my family and a really good close friend.
What are you looking forward to when you step on campus at Virginia?
I don’t want to make any promises as far as ACC Championships and National Championships but talking to [class of 2012 small forward] Evan Nolte from Virginia, we’re on a mission and we want to win. Whatever we have to do to get there we’re willing to do and I just can’t wait to get there and be pushed in a whole different way. High school coaches are different; there are no coaches like your collegiate coach. These are coaches who truly have your best interest and want you to win. It’s tough because every night it’s a close game but as Montrose you can get some rest at the end of the game if you’re beating a team, but the ACC – everyone knows how tough that is every night. I just can’t wait to play every game and the coach mentally and physically preparing me for them and hopefully we got some wins and bring a couple of championships to UVA.
All of them, all of them. This is all my family now. We’re all brothers, we’re a part of the same family. We’re at UVA together, I can’t wait to play with all of them. It’s just amazing to know that you have at least 20 guys that are all going at one common goal and have each other’s best interest. I just can’t wait to play with all of them.
Are there any particular teams, players, or venues you’re excited to play at in college?
I can’t wait to play in the championship game, that’s my major thing. I don’t think there’s any team out there in particular that I dream of playing but I definitely can’t wait until March comes and hopefully my team is there and we have our senior leaders and they’re just carrying us throughout the tournament and we get some wins.
Who are you recruiting to come with you to Virginia?
The only person I’m really working on is [class of 2012 point guard] L.J. Rose (#20) out of Houston, we’re trying to get him at my high school and at UVA. I think right now, if we get a point guard we’ll be tough at both schools and be championship contenders if we got a top point guard like L.J. Right now, we’re really pushing for him.
What’s your favorite thing about basketball?
You can go out there and have fun. It takes you away from everything, it’s like you’re in your own little world, or play pen, or however you want to describe it. It’s just a great stress reliever; it’s just a great thing to do. I’m happy and I think I take it for granted and a lot of other players take I for granted. God blessed us to have the ability to play this sport and when you see all the people around me wish they could play this sport we take it for granted some times. It’s a great sport to play and it takes our mind off of things.
Do you think playing a national schedule and being at a school like Montrose will help prepare you for college?
Absolutely, I think Montrose prepares you for college better than any high school in the country and I don’t think that’s too bold to say. Just the way that we do things. Out of town basketball players staying at houses 50 feet from the school. It’s like you’re at your dorm and you’re walking to class every day. Practice and study hall right after school. Late night study hall, early morning study hall, early morning workouts, team dinners, team breakfasts, team lunch, travel every weekend, traveling on Friday, travel on Tuesday, traveling on Tuesday is difficult, going to get assignments from your class that you know you’re going to miss Thursday and Friday before you get on the road to go anywhere. These are things that college athletes have to do in order to keep up with their academics in college and I think a lot of times guys are smacked in the face with this when they get to college and it kind of moves too fast for them but hopefully the way my school has prepared me, it will be a slow and easy things, and say, ‘I’m used to this,’ and I can possibly help my other teammates who aren’t used to this so I think it prepares you well for college.
It taught me a lot, it taught me respect, it taught me responsibility, it taught me self-control, it teaches you a lot of things that you can take off the court with you. Sportsmanship, it’s all bigger than basketball. A lot of coaches say ‘when your teammate hits the floor your sprint to him and pick him up, ‘and that’s what we teach, and that’s what we do at Montrose but I take it that extra mile when I see another team and their player fall, I sprint to them and pick them up too just because it’s a competitive sport and a lot of people look at it like ‘man, why are you helping him up?’ but at the end of the day we’re all basketball players and we have the same common goal and we look out for each other and we’re all a big brother hood. We play hard and we compete, but at the same time we respect each other because we all know how good each other are. Basketball teaches you countless things.
Some people don’t realize the dedication and hard work basketball demands, talk a little about how time you have to put in to it.
It’s your life, it a morning, evening and nighttime job. Even when you’re sitting at the house and you’re flipping around a basketball picturing yourself on the court and thinking about a no-look pass and catching it with your opposite hand. I just can’t get away from it. I’m always somehow attached to basketball whether it’s athletic gear I’m wearing and it’s having a basketball in my hand or sleeping with my basketball. Somehow I’m always attached to that ball and it’s your life and you put in a lot of work and the best thing about it is when you put in all of that work and you start to get something out of it and you start to see it yourself, that’s the best part about it.
Why do you play the game of basketball?
It takes me away from everything. I was gifted, god blessed me in a whole another way and I feel like it would be a shame if I don’t put it to use. One day I found out I could become really good if I worked hard at it and since then I just haven’t stopped working. I believe and my faith tells me it’s a sin to not use God’s given ability and I’m going to make sure I work really hard to use it.
What separates you from all of the other prospects?
I can’t be the judge of that, someone else who knows me inside and out would have to answer that question because in my mind, there’s nothing that separates me. I do everything the same as everyone else, I work just as hard, I put in as much time, I just hope that whatever I am doing will pay off and will get me to where I want to be.
What’s one thing people don’t know about you?
The will to win, I want to win. The feeling of winning is just tremendous. After a game, after anything, when you win, it feels great. Even when I’m outside and I’m playing with my guys whether we’re playing football, baseball, basketball, tennis, I’m extremely competitive and I want to win.
*We post our interviews with the top prospects every Monday so make sure you check back every week to see what the top players in the country are saying.