Juan Anderson adds versatility to Marquette’s roster

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Coach Buzz Williams’ favorite kinds of recruits are “interchangeables:” players who are versatile on both ends of the floor, can guard multiple positions and have an array of moves offensively.

If that’s the case, he’s going to love Juan Anderson.

Anderson averaged 17.4 points and 6.9 rebounds for Castro Valley (Calif.) and led his team to a 30-2 record, falling in the semifinals of the Northern regional championship this past season.

Listed at 6-feet-6-inches and projected as a small forward for Marquette, Anderson’s versatility made him a highly sought-after prospect who heads the Golden Eagles’ 2011 recruiting class.

Nick Jones, Anderson’s coach at Castro Valley, believes his senior will make a smooth transition to Marquette.

“He had a lot of freedom in our offensive system, and I think that’s why Marquette is a perfect fit for him,” Jones said in a phone interview last week. “Once he settles in and makes the adjustments, I believe he will take on a leadership role and do what’s needed to help Marquette win.”

For as good as he is when looking to score, Anderson’s best skill could be his passing. He has grown 10 inches since his freshman year of high school, and he said that allowed him to develop his smooth ball-handling skills that helped him average 3.4 assists his senior season, second best on his team.

“He would see plays develop two or three plays before they happened,” Jones said. “If he’s confident you’re going to make a play, he’ll give it up to you. If you’re open, you had better be ready for the ball or you’ll have a broken nose.”

Defensively, Anderson was a do-it-all star at Castro Valley. He matched up against the other team’s best scorer on a nightly basis. Jones said Anderson guarded all five positions, and the senior said he feels comfortable doing that at the next level.

“He’s very long and understands the game,” Jones said. “He anticipates and is a very good defender. He’s a good rebounder and can block some shots.”

Anderson put all his skills on display Sunday at the Next All-American Classic held at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill., an all-star game featuring 24 future college players from around the country. He filled up the stat sheet, finishing with six points, two rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal.

One area Anderson admitted he needs to improve on is consistency in his jump shot. But Jones said Anderson’s form and mechanics are good and that he needs more repetitions in the gym, something he will get at Marquette.

He will not officially join the Marquette family until he arrives in Milwaukee this summer, but Anderson said he has been in contact with fellow 2011 commits Derrick Wilson and Todd Mayo. Current Marquette players have also been giving Anderson advice to prepare him for his arrival.

“I talk to them all the time. They always tell me to get in the gym and stay ready,” Anderson said in an interview at the all-star event on Sunday. “Because it’s tough in the Big East, it’s not easy. They’re always reminding me every day to stay at it.”

Anderson’s mother, Patricia Rice, says her son’s preparation and past successes will have him prepared for the rigors he will face at the next level.

“I support him, and I’m proud of him,” she said on Sunday, smiling. “He’s a hard worker, and I feel like he has earned what he has gotten. He adapts well and is a great leader, so I think he’ll be OK.”

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