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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Ryan Anderson puts Wildcats in contention


Arizona senior Ryan Anderson grabs an offensive rebound off a missed jump shot, takes one dribble while lowering his shoulder like a bulldozer, pump fakes the dunk while drawing the foul and kissing the ball off the glass to force a 3-point play. 

Anderson walks to the free-throw line, blowing into his thumb while flexing his arm as if he’s pumping up his biceps. 

Just another day at the office. 

Players like Anderson tend to be undervalued—especially in today’s game—because power forwards have evolved in playing away from the basket and perfecting the mid-range jump shot. 

Anderson is the power forward that does the dirty work in the paint getting put backs and is a double-double machine. However, the road to Tucson for the senior transfer is different than what meets the eye.   

The 6-foot-9 forward played his first three seasons at Boston College and averaged 14 points per game in his final two seasons with the Eagles. In his last season, the Eagles went 8-24 and finished second to last in the conference, so Anderson’s exposure was limited due to the unsuccessful campaign. 

But a pedigree name like Arizona can easily get one’s highlight tape into NBA front offices, and Anderson took his talents to the Old Pueblo to join Sean Miller’s squad.   

At the same time, it’s difficult for a player to join the Arizona basketball program and carry the team, due to the plethora of talent that shapes the roster every season. 

Sitting out in 2015 and physically matching up with Kaleb Tarczewski, Dusan Ristic, Brandon Ashley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson day-by-day in practice may have been a blessing in disguise. 

Anderson wasn’t on anyone’s radar coming into this season and was considered to be just a guy to replace Brandon Ashley for one year until Miller recruited another five-star forward. 

That was until Tarczewski went down with a broken foot in the DirecTV Wooden Legacy, when Anderson was finally able to flex his talent, posting 17 points and 11 rebounds against Santa Clara. 

Fast forwarding to Arizona’s next road trip to Los Angeles, Anderson arguably played his worst game in an Arizona uniform at USC with five points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field.

 “It was a crazy game,” Anderson said. “As a leader of the team, I kinda’ felt like I let the guys down that night. They fought so hard and I felt like I didn’t do what the team expected from me.” 

Anderson took the quadruple-overtime loss against USC to heart and has averaged 18.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game since that forgettable road trip.

Anderson went on to win Pac-12 Conference Player of the Week after scoring 53 points and earning 27 rebounds in the sweep of the Washington schools in the first week of February. 

The Wildcats returned to McKale Center last week and on Valentine’s Day, Anderson redeemed himself with 14 points against the Trojans. 

Anderson now sits at eighth place in the conference in scoring (15.9) and second place in rebounds per game (10.3), while shooting 57.1 percent from the field throughout the season. 

Once upon a time, Anderson was just the to-be transfer. But in just one season, the senior has evolved into a leader.

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter

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