Heath: Transfer Anderson has 'great energy'
USF coach Stan Heath believes he's found a steal in former Kansas State power forward Ron Anderson Jr., who signed with the Bulls on Wednesday and will have two years of eligibility after sitting out the 2009-10 season.
Heath said not to read much into Anderson's scoring -- he averaged 5.2 points a game coming off K-State's bench -- but to look at his size (6-foot-8, 245 pounds) and rebounding. Anderson averaged 5.3 rebounds, and totaled more boards (180) off the bench than anyone in USF's lineup. He finished with 83 offensive rebounds, while none of USF's big men last year totaled more than 43. His shooting percentage of 52.2 percent? Only Alex Rivas Sanchez (53.3) was higher among last year's USF players.
Heath said he saw Anderson play in high school when he was at McCallie School, a private school in Chattanooga, but Anderson was closer to 290 pounds then and the size made Heath hesitant.
"I saw him, and he had the weight and I just wasn't sure. I liked him, but I wasn't quite sure," Heath said. "In hindsight, I wish I would have been more aggressive."
Heath said Anderson's size reminds him of Charles Thomas, another 6-foot-8 forward who was a key part of Heath's last three teams at Arkansas. Thomas averaged 10.7 points and a team-best 5.7 rebounds in 2006-07, which was Heath's final season with the Razorbacks.
"The thing I've really been impressed with is that Ron has a good feel for the game, a good sense of when to pass on a double team, who's the open man, what's the right play to make," Heath said. "I think he gives us that combination guy I like that can play in and out, but more important, you've got a 4-man who can handle pressure, can pass the ball. I think he's going to be a good assist-turnover guy, a guy who brings great energy to the court."
It's rare for a big man to have more assists than turnovers -- Anderson had 36 assists and 33 turnovers last season. By comparison, consider USF's five frontcourt players last season: B.J. Ajayi, statistically the most careful of the group, had seven assists and 17 turnovers. Gus Gilchrist had 12 assists and 42 turnovers, and Eladio Espinosa had 9 assists and 26 turnovers. And those are still better than Aris Williams (5 assists, 20 turnovers) and Rivas Sanchez (3 assists, 36 turnovers). Combined, those five totaled 36 assists -- exactly the same as Anderson -- while committing four times as many turnovers.
Asked what his strengths are on the court, Anderson pointed to his ability to think on the court, to quickly process a play as it happens -- very much a guard answer from a big man.
"He's a very cerebral player," Heath said.
Heath can laugh now, but Anderson's official visit wasn't a perfect one. His time in Tampa was cut a day short because he had to go to Tulsa for the funeral of his godfather, former NBA star Waymon Tisdale, and Heath said it rained in Tampa the entire day he was in town -- this was the week of the Big East tournament in Clearwater, when games kept getting pushed back by one delay after another.
"And yet he loved it," Heath said. "So I'm thinking to myself, if you really liked this, when you see a good day, you'll be amazed."
Heath has another scholarship available, but since it's June, a full six weeks since the spring signing period started, it's doubtful the Bulls will be able to find an unclaimed recruit ready to play this season at the Big East level. If he holds onto the last one, Heath would have three scholarships to use next season.
"It'd have to be the right guy, but I'm very satisfied with what we have right now to get ready for next season," Heath said.
For the frontcourt, that'd be junior Jarrid Famous and Rivas Sanchez at center, with Gus Gilchrist and freshman Toarlyn Fitzpatrick at power forward. The backcourt obviously starts with Dominique Jones, with Chris Howard, Anthony Crater and Justin Leemow splitting minutes at the point and three freshmen -- Jordan Dumars, Shaun Noriega and Mike Burwell -- rotating in at shooting guard/small forward.