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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Anderson poised to hold major role in Arizona offense after shoulder surgery and transfer

Tyler Baker

Arizona forward Ryan Anderson (12) celebrates after scoring against Chico State during the Wildcats’ exhibition game in McKale Center on Nov. 8. Anderson led all Wildcats in scoring and rebounding with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

A referee hands Mark Tollefsen the ball on the baseline not too far from behind the hoop. Tollefsen looks around for about two seconds, then immediately lobs the ball into the air just in front of the basket.

An unguarded Ryan Anderson flies toward the hoop. He catches the ball at its highest point with his right hand and brings it down for the hard slam.

That’s something the 6-foot-9 do-it-all forward showcased during Arizona’s exhibition game against Chico State, and it’s a spectacle Wildcat fans get to look forward to all season.

“That’s one of our plays this year; we’ve been running it for a couple of years,” Anderson said. “I like that play. For the most part it’s pretty consistent.”

Anderson, a Boston College transfer, has been wowing coaches, teammates and fans through his short time wearing an Arizona jersey.

He has earned nothing but the highest praise from head coach Sean Miller, who says Anderson won the team’s gold jersey for six straight weeks. The jersey is given to the player who leads the team in total statistical practice points.

Anderson displayed his versatility Sunday during the Wildcats’ exhibition, finishing with 19 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and three blocks. The Wildcats went on to beat Chico State 90-54.

“We’ve never had a player dominate the action like that,” Miller said. “He’s worked hard the last year with Chris Rounds, our strength coach, and worked really hard this summer. You can see from his physical-ness that his body has changed. He’s got a lot less body fat, is stronger and he’s really a very good player. Hands down our best player, every day.”

Miller said during media day that Anderson had bench pressed 185 pounds 21 times a few days prior, which is a first in this program’s storied history.

Anderson joined the Wildcats last season but had to sit out due to NCAA transfer rules. He also finished recovering from right shoulder surgery.

“I learned a lot last year. I definitely don’t regret my decision at all to sit out,” Anderson said. “That was the first year of my life that I never played a game. [This season] is definitely a time that I’m waiting on.”

His right shoulder is doing just fine judging by that alley-oop he finished in the exhibition.

Anderson’s praise reaches beyond his coaches as well.

“The past couple of years, we’ve been a big team,” center Kaleb Tarczewski said after the Wildcats’ exhibition game. “We’ve had a lot of really good fours. [Brandon Ashley] has been here since I’ve been here, Rondae [Hollis-Jefferson] and AG [Aaron Gordon] as well. I’d say Ryan is just as good, if not better, than all of them. He works hard, he’s always in the right position at the right time and he’s going to be a huge part of our team this year.”

The Lakewood, California, native played three seasons at Boston College before coming back west to Tucson. Anderson averaged 14.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game and earned honorable Mention All-ACC in his junior year with the Eagles.

Anderson said he learned a lot from Miller and watching the players last season.

“One of the biggest things I’m happy about is my leadership,” Anderson said. “I really tried to pay attention to guys like T.J. [McConnell], a guy that had so much respect from our team last year. Just learning how to honor the process here and what that really means, and how T.J. embodied that, really helped me learn a lot for this upcoming year.”

Anderson said he is just excited to get back out on to the court and sees a bright future for this Arizona squad.

“We have the motto, ‘just us,’ ” he said. “That just kind of embodies all of us being together as a unit—being close. Knowing that we may not have a top 5 NBA pick this year, but together, us as a group, … all we need is just us. And together, we can do some special things this year and hopefully make the Final Four. That’s what all of our dreams are and what we signed up for.”

As for himself, Anderson said he hopes the fans enjoy what they see from him in his only season as a Wildcat.

“Hopefully they’ll love how hard I play,” Anderson said. “I take pride in the fact that I try not to take any plays off. I know that’s the Arizona mentality, to just ‘bear down,’ as we call it. When it gets tough, I always feel like I get better. I think they’ll like that about me and I think they’ll like my energy.

Who knows? Maybe Anderson can bring that T.J. McConnell feeling back to McKale Center for just one more year.

“Any time it’s game day, I’m going to be smiling,” Anderson said. “So it’ll be fun.”

Follow Kyle Hansen on Twitter.

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