Antwoine Anderson shines in crowded depth chart as Connecticut grad transfer

first_imgAnderson believed Fordham’s outlook was bright when he committed there. But the victories never came. Fordham only finished above .500 once, going 17-14 in Anderson’s redshirt sophomore season of 2015-16. The team never made the NCAA Tournament while Anderson was there.For his final collegiate season, Anderson chose UConn in large part because he believed the Huskies would have a chance to make the Big Dance.“The biggest thing for me is I wanna go to the NCAA Tournament,” Anderson said. “And to the NBA after this season.”On-ball defending is the first trait UConn head coach Kevin Ollie brought up about Anderson. Some of the traits Anderson brings to the floor “can’t be measured,” Ollie said.“The experience and leadership he brings to the team and his poise in hectic moments,” Ollie said, “are very important to us.”UConn has plenty of options for late-game offense, including Adams, its leading-scorer. But Anderson said that if the game is on the line, he’ll be lobbying with Ollie in the huddle to let him take the last shot.“Of course, always, that’s the shot I want to take,” Anderson said.When asked if he thinks Ollie will let him take it, he laughed: “Of course.”CORRECTION: Fordham’s place in the Patriot League was misstated. Fordham competes in the Patriot League only in football. The Daily Orange regrets this error. Comments Published on December 4, 2017 at 10:45 pm Contact Billy: [email protected] | @Wheyen3 Facebook Twitter Google+ A 6-foot-2 guard, Anderson was mostly recruited by low-major Division I schools out of Bishop Kearney (New York) High School. Niagara, Boston University and James Madison extended him scholarship offers, he recalled, but he eventually chose Fordham due to its strong business school and the potential upside he saw in the program.After his redshirt freshman season for the Rams, Anderson’s head coach left and the new one told Anderson he’d never play for him, Anderson said. He stayed and turned into one of the team’s best players, averaging the most minutes (33.6) on the team last year.Neubauer and the Fordham coaching staff declined to comment for this story.Now, Anderson runs the point at Connecticut, which has won four NCAA championships since 1999. He’s part of a crowded backcourt that also features Jalen Adams, Alterique Gilbert and Christian Vital. As a graduate transfer, Anderson plays 33.6 minutes a game and averages 10.3 points per contest.“I figured that I would play all four years at Fordham,” Anderson said. “So for me to have this opportunity is amazing and very exciting for me.”College offers wouldn’t come until Anderson embraced playing hard. Anderson spent his early years of high school occasionally questioning what he was asked to do instead of just doing it, then-Bishop Kearney head coach Jon Boon said. He’d had his moments on the AAU circuit, including locking down Andrew Harrison, who eventually starred at Kentucky, in the summer prior to Anderson’s senior year. But the fully engaged Anderson wasn’t on display at all times.His senior year, though, everything clicked. When Boon yelled at his lefty point guard to do something, Anderson did it. The 2012-13 Bishop Kearney team featured Thomas Bryant, who starred at Indiana University and now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, and Chinonso Obokoh, who played at Syracuse. That season, the Kings won the New York Public High School Athletic Association title in class AA, the largest in the state. Boon credited Anderson as the reason the team won the championship.“He was the glue that kept everything together that year,” Boon said.The college decision for Anderson was drawn out until the end of the postseason run, but in the end, the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham enticed him enough to become a Ram.After redshirting his first year due to academic ineligibility, Anderson played just more than 18 minutes per game in his redshirt freshman season. Then, Fordham fired head coach Tom Pecora, who had recruited Anderson, after a 10-21 season. Fordham hired Jeff Neubauer, who told his inherited point guard he’d never be able to play for him, Anderson said.When Anderson came home the summer after Neubauer’s hiring in 2015, he contemplated transferring. But he decided to stay. This was a personal challenge.“I just wasn’t going to let somebody tell me I wasn’t going to be able to play for them, ever,” Anderson said. “I wanted to go and fight for a spot.”Back at Fordham, Anderson intended to prove himself. Neubauer’s “a big defense guy,” Anderson said, so his standout on-ball pressure in practice helped him earn playing time. Anderson eventually led the team in minutes in his redshirt junior season under Neubauer.Anderson won Neubauer games with his offense, too. Against VCU on January 18, Fordham was tied in overtime until Anderson pulled up at the top of the key, faded away and won the game. Just a couple weeks later, Anderson pulled up from 3-point land in double overtime against St. Joe’s and walked-off once again. UPDATED: Dec. 6, 2017 at 6:25 p.m.Last spring, two colleges courted Antwoine Anderson aggressively. He had just completed his redshirt junior season at Fordham and had been granted a release to use his final season of eligibility elsewhere.Seton Hall guaranteed Anderson would play 35 minutes a game, he said. All that Anderson saw at Connecticut, which also wanted him, was a depth chart featuring three strong guards. As he’s done all his life in basketball, Anderson took the challenge.“I didn’t want it to be easy,” Anderson said.Anderson chose UConn (6-2). He and his Huskies teammates take on Syracuse (6-1) at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday at 9 p.m. The responsibility of guarding one or both of Syracuse’s leading scorers, Tyus Battle and Frank Howard, will likely fall to Anderson, too.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textlast_img