ALEM - With the game nearly over and his Lynn English team more than comfortably ahead, senior point guard Anthony Anderson stole the ball and broke toward the basket.
Despite being just 5-foot-10, Anderson leapt up and punctuated his evening with a dunk, bringing cheers from the scattering of Lynn English fans that made the trip to Salem.
With the score 60-30, Bulldog coach Ron Bennett gave his point guard the rest of the game off. Underneath his tightly corn-rowed hair, Anderson smiled as he accepted high fives and fist bumps from teammates Tuesday night.
But on a 19-point, nine-assist night, the dunk was far from the most impressive thing Anderson did. In a state that has produced its share of talented floor generals over the years, Anderson appears to ready to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Rumeal Robinson, Wayne Turner and Dana Barros.
Anderson's potential has the University of Massachusetts excited as Anderson has listed the Minutemen as the leader for his services, with Villanova and Florida State lagging behind.
"I'm leaning toward UMass," said Anderson, who said its proximity to home helps. "Most of my family is saying 'stay close, stay close' so they can come and watch."
In a gym that former Temple star Rick Brunson and current Ohio State star Scoonie Penn played their scholastic home games in, Anderson lived up to his hype.
Most high school point guards, even ones with good floor vision, don't start surveying the court until they have the ball. But Anderson played as if he was constantly taking stock of where people were and where they were going.
Anderson displayed a solid nose for the ball defensively as he turned several steals into baskets either for himself or teammates. He shot well, but not great, from the perimeter and made some pretty shots driving to the hoop. But most of all, Anderson made very few mistakes.
"In 35 years, he's the best player I've ever had," Bennett said. "He sees the floor so well and can always find the open man."
Finding the open man is important for Anderson, who is rarely open himself facing double teams and an array of junk defenses. Still, he's averaged over 20 points per game throughout the season.
"He carries us," Bennett said. "Last year we were 16-2. Without him we might have been 3-15."
Anderson said the recruiting process has been a taxing one.
"It's been very hard," Anderson said. "But I've been able to keep focused (on playing) and keep my head in it."
While his basketball is in order, academics have been another story. Anderson missed a lot of school early in high school, scaring off some schools that might have been interested. His eligibility as a freshman is still a question mark, but according to Bennett and Marvin Avery, Anderson's coach and mentor, things have improved significantly.
"He's buckled down," Bennett said. "The second quarter just closed and I think he did pretty well."
"We have him working with two tutors preparing for the SAT," Avery said.
If he doesn't become eligible, Anderson said he probably would still enroll in college and sit out the season. Anderson needs to pass a certain number of core courses and receive a certain SAT score to be eligible as a freshman. While the NCAA will still have some minimum eligibility standard for next year, those standards could change as the NCAA debates the issue.
"I am considering being a Prop. 48," Anderson said. "I'd rather be on campus and sit out a year than in prep school."
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UMass appears to be in good shape with its other top recruiting priority, Barton County Community College power forward Jackie Rogers.
According to Barton County coach Ryan Wolfe, UMass is the leader for Rogers. But the 6-8 Syracuse native will take official visits in the spring before making his decision.
MHERST - After two months of saying he was leaning toward the University of Massachusetts, Anthony Anderson made it official this weekend.
According to Marvin Avery, who is Anderson's cousin and mentor, the 5-foot-10 point guard from Lynn has given a verbal commitment to become a Minuteman next year. He will sign the national letter of intent during the April signing period.
"He's ready to go," Avery said Sunday. "We think he'll do a good job for (coach) Bruiser Flint up there."
Anderson, who is widely considered by recruiting services to be one of the top 100 high school seniors in the country, is averaging 23.2 points per game for Lynn English High School and was selected as the most outstanding player of the Northeast Conference.
Anderson has yet to receive the necessary SAT score to qualify academically to be eligible to play as a freshman, but according to Avery, he is close. There are several more opportunities to take the test in time to become eligible.
Anderson joins a UMass recruiting class that appears to be the best in Flint's tenure as head coach. UMass has received letters of intent from Boston English small forward Raheim Lamb and Sacramento, Calif., shooting guard Jameel Pugh during the November signing period.
Former University of West Virginia swingman Jarrett Kearse, who was at UMass on an official visit this weekend, also has given the Minutemen a verbal commitment.
Unless a current member of the team decides to transfer after the season, UMass has only one more scholarship to offer prospective recruits. The Minutemen's top priority appears to be Barton County (Kan.) Community College standout Jackie Rogers.
Contrary to Internet reports that had Rogers still considering a long list of schools, Barton coach Ryan Wolfe said the process is almost over.
"Rogers is going to visit UMass once the season is over," Wolfe said. "Then he plans to decide between UMass, St. Bonaventure and Louisville. I would say right now UMass is the leader."
nthony Anderson almost became a forgotten player in the Class of 2000 due to his academic status. But the senior from Lynn, Mass., has a big-time game, and he recently decided to take his talents to UMass next year. In this update, Anderson tells the Insiders Report the reasons for his decision.
There's a good chance that Anderson will sit out next year at UMass as a Prop 48, but the senior guard was happy to get the decision out of the way.
"UMass is close to home, so my family can watch a lot of the games," Anderson said. "I like the staff up there. I've talked to them a couple of times and we get along real well."
Anderson said he has about a C average in the classroom, and has yet to surpass NCAA minimum standards on the SAT.
"They told me I could Prop 48 next year if I don't get the score on the SAT," Anderson said.
Anderson is a big-time playmaker and scorer, who uses a combination of speed and strength to penetrate and set up teammates.
He is having a fine senior year, averaging 25 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists, four steals and one block per game.
Anderson first came to the attention of the Insiders Report last March playing for Mass Wildcat at the Tim Thomas Playaz Spring Fling.
He followed that up with a great performance at the Spiece Tournament in W. Lafayette,Ind., where he and Scott Hazelton led Mass Wildcat to the finals against the Tim Thomas Playaz.
Anderson attended one UMass game earlier this season, when the Minutemen played at Providence. He was slated to go to the St. Joe's/UMass game on Feb. 19, but a massive snowstorm kept Anderson from attending that game.
He said that he hopes to take an official visit in the near future to UMass.