Doug A. Fresh!
High-flying Doug Anderson leads the buzzing Mott College.
by Patrick Hayes / @patrick_hayes
Growing up in Kalamazoo, MI, Doug Anderson didn’t have access to the most technologically advanced training methods. He made due with what he had. Namely, he walked and he jumped.
“When I was young, all I did was walk, like long distances with a backpack full of books,” Anderson said. “It could be summertime, and I’d still fill it with books or extra shoes or clothes (for weight). And most of the time, I’d just sit there trying to jump. I got my first dunk when I was like 5-8.”
That dunk came just before he started the eighth grade. Since that first one, dunking has become routine for Anderson, now a sophomore standout for Mott Community College, the top ranked JuCo in Division II. Routine, but never boring.
Anderson does things athletically that only a handful of basketball players at any level in the country are able to pull off. The Vince Carter elbow dunk? Throwing the ball off of the wall supporting the basket, catching and finishing? Anderson has done those. Catching a full-court alley-oop and finishing? Done it. Shattering a backboard? Yeah, he did that too. There are very few highlight reel aerial moves Anderson is not capable of finishing.
Anderson typically declines to have his vertical leap measured claiming that it would undersell how high he actually jumps – the adrenaline of a game causes him to jump higher, he’s said. He doesn’t pattern his dunks after any player in particular, although one underrated NBA high flyer is among his favorites to watch.
“I watch JR Smith,” he said. “Everyone sleeps on him and he can jump. As soon as you see he’s going past you, he just dunks on you. He has some nice dunks up his sleeve.”
As a standout at Kalamazoo Central High School, Anderson’s dunks have long made him a “YouTube star” as Mott coach and NJCAA Hall of Famer Steve Schmidt calls him. And as a coach who boasts three national championships won with teams that always featured high caliber athletes, Schmidt was certainly drawn to Anderson because of his ability to make the impossible look easy.
“I heard the buzz about Doug and saw him as a senior during the Michigan high school state tournament,” Schmidt said. “I went down to Lansing Eastern fieldhouse and everyone was talking about Doug Anderson. And off the opening tip, the (Kalamazoo Central) guard takes two dribbles and throws it from about halfcourt and Doug just goes up and slams it, and from that point on, Doug had me.”
More buzz in an already buzzing program
Prior to Anderson’s arrival at Mott, the program already boasted one of the best fanbases in all of JuCo basketball. Mott had won three national titles in less than a decade. The program had produced three National Players of the Year (Jeremie Simmons, Kevin Tiggs and Jay Youngblood) as well as dozens of All-Americans and players who went on to play Division I college basketball and professionally overseas. Located in basketball-loving Flint, MI, Mott’s success had long been a point of pride in the community.
But Anderson’s arrival gave a popular program even more appeal. Last season, Mott had to add another set of bleachers into Steve Schmidt Gymnasium, the team’s home arena which is named after the coach, to accommodate the growing number of fans coming out to see Anderson and Mott’s aerial show. By the end of this season, that additional set of bleachers was not even enough as many crowds featured standing room only seating.
“I don’t know if a junior college has as loyal a following as we have, even prior to Doug being here,” Schmidt said. “We’ve won three national championships and are playing for a fourth, but we’ve never had the buzz or excitement that we’ve had these last two years with Doug. It might be one or two athletic plays that LeBron James could make or just a handful of people in America could make that people see on a regular basis at Mott games.”
Anderson and his teammates feed off the energy created by his dunks. Mott, ranked second in the country in defense, often sees an Anderson dunk lead to increased defensive pressure, turnovers and an eight- or 10-point run.
“When we played St. Clair (in the regional semi-final), I caught an oop over one of their players who was from Flint (T’aron Boose), and it just made me feel like Blake Griffin, everyone went nuts,” Anderson said. “They called timeout and everything. That was one of my favorite ones.”
More than just dunks
Like most high school stars, Anderson has grand aspirations for his basketball career. To achieve those, he needed to find a JuCo that would help him add some finesse to compliment his raw athleticism. During the recruiting process, that was the pitch Schmidt used to convince Anderson Mott was the place for him rather than the dozens of other schools recruiting him.
“I sold him and his family on the fact that everyone knows you’re on YouTube, everyone knows you can dunk as well as anybody, my hope is to make you a complete basketball player,” Schmidt said. “I told him, Every player who has played at Mott is a better player when they’re done then when they came.”
Things weren’t always easy. Last season, Anderson was one of the top freshmen in Michigan and led Mott in scoring. Mott won a state title and finished 26-4. They headed into their regional as the favorites to win it and earn a berth in the national tournament, but a poor performance ended in an upset at the hands of Henry Ford Community College.
Schmidt used the disappointing ending to impart to Anderson and the rest of his returning players the importance of committing to his core values at Mott: academics, work ethic and defense.