Feature photo courtesy of Alphonso Anderson.
Alphonso Anderson elected to leave his home state of Washington to play his college ball at Montana, committing to the Griz on Oct. 11.
Anderson said Montana’s coaching staff was a large reason for his decision.
“[He] used to be an assistant at the University of Cal, and he moved and got the head coaching job at Montana,” Anderson said. “Also, [associate] coach [Ken] Bone [was] at Wazzu when he was recruiting me, and he moved to Montana also, so it’s like a group of coaches that want me now [all] have their own gig together, so it kind of works out.”
Anderson said he knew Montana was also a good school academically, and he likes the new head coach’s style of play.
“I know Coach Trev will push him to his limits, make him exceed his own expectations and create new ones,” Anderson’s current coach, Ed Haskins said.
Playing on a very competitive team is nothing new for Anderson. The Garfield High School team works out with Brandon Roy, who played for the Portland Trailblazers and was a two-time NBA all-star.
“Our coaching staff has all played at a high level and they teach me a lot,” Anderson said. “It’s intensely run. We get in the best shape. Just the attitude you have to bring towards the game – when I moved here, it changed. The winning attitude helped.”
“I think that [Anderson] will play in the NBA, but if that doesn’t happen, he’ll play further past college.” – Garfield assistant coach Jamaal Williams
Anderson moved to Garfield High School in Seattle from Tacoma in 2014. Although he had to make some adjustments, he ultimately found the move very beneficial.
“It just took him a while to get adjusted to new teammates and a new coaching staff, but once he settled in, he was a big contributor for us last year,” Garfield assistant coach Jamaal Williams said.
His new school holds him to an even higher standard.
“Switching schools helped my basketball career a lot, because I was with a lot of guys who have done what I want to do and help put me on the right track,” he wrote. “Also, my coaching staff at Garfield won’t let me take any game, practice or even possession off, so they hold me more accountable which raised my level of play.”
Williams explained how Anderson has matured a lot in the time he’s known him, and developed both as a person and as a basketball player.
“He’s taken a lot more responsibility about his school work and his preparation for basketball and how he approaches the game,” Williams said.
Sure, he can post even though he’s not a post. In fact, Haskins said he’s the best post in the state of Washington. And sure, he can knock down three-pointers and defend multiple positions, but according to Haskins, Anderson’s strongest area is being a great teammate.
“He’s a willing passer. He’s always encouraging, he’s talking,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Alphonso yell or go off on one of his teammates.”
The coach also noted that he would never leave out a struggling teammate, yet he’s also a fierce competitor.
The AAU circuit has been essential in Anderson’s path to playing at a D-1 school.
“I’ve been playing on the national circuit since sixth grade,” Anderson said. “Just playing against all the top-ranked guys, people that are supposed to be better than me, pushing me to where I’m at now.”
Haskins said Anderson is gaining steam as his high school career winds down and he nears his entrance to the college game.
“He’s got a huge fire,” he said. “He’s beginning to see how good he can actually be and he’s working his butt off.”
Haskins said he believes Anderson can guard at any position at this lived, and probably a two to a five at the next level.
Anderson’s best asset is being a mismatch, according to Williams.
“He can pull some smaller guys and … step out of the perimeter and take bigger guards to the basket,” he said.
Anderson works out with, among others, basketball trainer Chris Hyppa and Mark “Jingles” Caesar. Caesar has also trained players in both the NBA and WNBA.
“I think that [Anderson] will play in the NBA, but if that doesn’t happen, he’ll play further past college,” Williams said.
Haskins said he also feels confident about Anderson’s future.
“’Phonso’s best basketball is ahead of him, and I think people should really watch out for him,” he said. “He’s a special kid with special talent.”
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