The Best Player You’ve Never Heard Of
‘The state of Kansas hates him…and you should begin to love him.’
You’ve got to be a special player if you’ve earned the moniker “Big Game James.”
In the two biggest games for the Oklahoma State Cowboys, James Anderson simply would not let Oklahoma State lose.
Versus No. 9 ranked Kansas State: 30 points (9-18 FG, 10-11 FT, 2-5 3PT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists
Versus No. 1 ranked Kansas: 27 points (9-19 FG, 5-6 FT, 4-6 3PT), 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Needless to say the state of Kansas does not want to see any more of Mr. Anderson anytime soon.
Anderson is a prototypical 2 guard at 6-6, 210 pounds. He was simply known as a shooter from Junction City, AR when he established himself in Stillwater, OK. Now in his Junior season for the ‘Pokes, not only is he a leading candidate for Big 12 Player of the Year, in a strong class that includes Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich of Kansas, LaceDarius Dunn of Baylor and Texas’ Damion James but he leads the Big 12 and ranks fifth nationally in scoring. Anderson is among 16 finalists for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, awards to college basketball’s National Player of the Year. His scoring, rebounding, and assists averages are all up from a year ago and he’s a bonafide candidate for First Team All-American when the list comes out later this month.
But…that’s the easy part, telling you his numbers and “the facts” about James Anderson. Let’s break his story down a little further.
Anderson has literally carried the Cowboys to a 20-8 record (8-6 in Big 12 play) as Travis Ford is picking up the pieces from a recruiting class that former ‘Pokes coach Sean Sutton brought in a couple of years back. There’s definitely a sense of “withdrawal” in looking at the talent Anderson has around him. Pun intended of course. Also, for someone who’s known for being “extremely unselfish, sometimes to a fault” and his major weakness is simply that “he’s too nice” he’s worked diligently to become an assassin on the basketball court.
Now, Anderson’s got a new fan, whose allegiance is somewhat unexpected.
“I really like his game,” Durant told NewsOK.com last week as he observed Anderson as Oklahoma State hosted Texas. “When I went to see him he was just on fire. He can shoot the deep ball and when somebody’s in his face he can dribble. He can do a lot of different things. I’m really impressed.”
What’s more impressive is he’s made similar tweaks to his game that the star swingman of the Oklahoma City Thunder did, he’s expanded his game much more. Anderson’s ability to drive the lane, post up smaller defenders, and earn trips to the free throw line (leads the Big 12 in free throw attempts with 225) have made him an all-around threat. Anderson even has one designation Durant is still working toward: his team’s best defender. “He’s doing it with points, rebounds, and he’s our best defender,” Cowboys coach Travis Ford said. “Plus, he’s extremely unselfish, sometimes to a fault. We wouldn’t mind it if he shot it every single time.”
Of course, if you ask coaches in the Big 12 what Anderson is most known for and they would tell you Anderson has been known to simply, “Go Off.”
25 points in the first half against Texas Tech, 24 points against Texas, 27 against Oklahoma. That’s called “an explosion” ladies and gentlemen.
So the question is two-fold.
Number one…who’s looking forward to facing Oklahoma State in the Tournament? As arguably college basketball’s best scorer is looking forward to “going off” on you at a moment’s notice and he just a needs a reason to do so. The Big 12 coaches will give you some candid feedback.
Number two…who doesn’t need a hyper-productive two-guard on their NBA team? ESPN has Anderson projected as a potential late lottery pick as he’s continued to climb up the boards as there are no other legit two-guards in this upcoming draft. He’s a must have if you are an NBA GM in need of production from your wing players.
Now you are familiar with “Big Game” James, the college version…lets see if he can earn that title in March, and then in the pros with the big boys. Good luck.
Eddie Maisonet is a writer of all sports, who’s also a big-time hoops and Oklahoma City Thunder fan (Sooner State stand up!). Keep up with Eddie on SLAMonline as well as his award-winning blog at Ed The Sports Fan and on Twitter.