Imagine wearing a size 12½ shoe and being the guy who has big shoes to fill.
Welcome to Josh Anderson’s world.
The Madison Prep junior-to-be isn’t exactly a household name. Expect that to change.
“This year I need to come out and do more,” Anderson said. “It’s not just about scoring. I’ve got to do all the little stuff. I’ve got to be a better defender and rebound. I’ve got to facilitate for the other guys. They’re counting on me.”
The 6-foot-4, 175-pound Anderson definitely has room to grow physically. The same is true for his game now that MPA star Brandon Sampson, Louisiana’s 2015 Mr. Basketball, has moved on to LSU.
“Recruiting-wise he’s probably been a little under the radar for some colleges,” Madison Prep coach Jeffery Jones said. “His overall leadership and embracing being a leader like the guys before him did — like Jarell (Martin, ex-MPA and LSU player) and Brandon (Sampson) is what we want.
“His game is going to take care of itself. Just to see him going from a sophomore and a junior and taking on these new roles is the big thing. Brandon and Jarell weren’t vocal leaders, but they led by example. The other guys saw how hard they worked. And there’s a carryover in the classroom. He has to show he’s working just as hard there too.”
No pressure, right? Madison Prep moves up to the Class 2A ranks in 2015-16 after winning a Class B title in 2013 and a 1A title last spring. In 2014, the Chargers were the 1A runners-up.
If there’s any stress involved Anderson doesn’t show it. Instead, he talks methodically about sharing the point guard duties with 5-foot-9 senior Marquise Browder next season.
“It’s a great experience to be in that role and have the chance to become a leader,” Anderson said. “I’m working on making my shot more consistent and manning up on defense better than last year.
“I like bringing the ball up the court. Everybody listens when you call out the instructions. You have a sense of control.”
In most other programs, Anderson’s story would have been in the spotlight sooner. He grew up following the lead of older brother Simpson Anderson, who led Central Private to a Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class 2A title and is now set to play at Texas-based Hill College.
There was literally no spot on the MPA varsity squad when he was a freshman two seasons ago. Jones had a limited number of varsity uniforms.
Anderson’s play prompted a late-season promotion that led to a key role off the bench as the Chargers finished second to Metairie Park Country Day in 1A. A series of double-digit games had opposing coaches asking, ‘Who’s that guy?’
Last season Anderson often deferred to Sampson and Rhode Island signee Christion Thompson. He was second on the team in scoring with a 14.2 average and added 6.7 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 3.2 steals per game.
“I’ve always played with older guys,” Anderson said. “I’ve done in it AAU and high school ball. When I was 9 or 10 I played with 12-year-olds. That’s pushed me.”
Now it will be Anderson’s turn to push some of the Chargers’ top young players, including 6-6½ sophomore-to-be Josh LeBlanc, who had a spring tryout to make the USA Basketball Under-16 team.
“We have guys who have played smaller roles in the past who we’ll be counting on more,” Jones. “It’s not necessary about get wins during the summer, it’s about getting better.
“We lost two games to U-High at the LSU team camp, and that was actually good for us. At Southern team camp, we beat a good Peabody team. Losses are always the most revealing.”
The Chargers are busy with team camps and summer league games in June. Once Anderson rejoins the AAU circuit next month, Jones expects interest from recruiters to pick up. He currently has scholarship offers from Louisiana Tech and Alabama-Birmingham.
College coaches were allowed to contact rising juniors for the first time on Monday. Jones said he fielded calls about Anderson from USC, Marquette, Texas A&M, LSU, Texas Tech, UCLA and Maryland that day.
A trip to the California-based Pangos camp netted West Coast interest. Anderson, Breaux Bridge’s Gaylen Alexander, Natchitoches Central Cameron Lard and Landry-Walker’s Lamar Peters were there along with Skylar Mays, the University High guard who is set to play at Las Vegas-based Findlay Prep in 2015-16.
“I found out I have to be more assertive … that’s what I learned at Pangos,” Anderson said.
He’ll attend the Under Armour All-American Camp in Charlotte, N.C., from July 7-10 with LeBlanc, Alexander and Mays.
Until then, Anderson will do what he usually does. When asked about any hobbies, he shakes his head.
“I live right down the street from a gym, so I go shoot there when I have spare time,” Anderson said.