Justin Anderson: Ready to take the next step

justin dunkUVA junior Justin Anderson wasn’t thinking NBA when he started the 2014-2015 season. It was the NBA thinking Justin Anderson that led him to begin pondering over what turned out to be “one of the biggest decisions in my life.”

“I’m just so thankful for my three-year ride here at UVA. I think the opportunity presented itself to me to take my talents to the next level and become a professional athlete. I think I’m ready to take that step,” Anderson told reporters on Tuesday, a day after he announced his intentions to forego his senior season at Virginia to declare for the 2015 NBA Draft.

Where he will likely land in the draft is up in the air. Some NBA Draft analysts have the athletic 6’6” guard going in the late first round, one putting Anderson as high as the 22nd pick, but a few have him going in the second round.

Anderson said he has had to “grow up a lot, process a lot” in the past few weeks. “I had to make sure that I made an informed decision, talk to the proper people,” Anderson said, listing among his contacts recent UVA alums Joe Harris and Mike Scott, both now getting ready for the NBA playoffs with their teams.

“Talking to those guys, realizing what it takes, they gave me great advice about the process,” said Anderson, conceding that making the final call to declare for the draft wasn’t easy, in part because of the expectations for the UVA program heading into 2015-2016.

A number of college basketball analysts had Virginia #1 or #2 nationally next year assuming that Anderson was returning.

“We’re going to have a great team regardless,” Anderson said. “We should be seeing that this year with a couple of guys having to step up. The program that Coach Bennett runs here, we have guys here who are very capable of stepping up.”

Anderson will finish out the academic semester at the University, telling reporters that continuing progress toward his degree is a high priority.

“One thing that I was very concerned about is finishing up school. That’s one thing that I want to make sure that I do not only for my family and my coaches here, because they led me to that success, but for myself, truly,” Anderson said.

“Those are definitely goals that I’ve had, and pulling out of school is not something that I want to do. I want to make sure that I finish this year strong in the classroom,” said Anderson, adding later that he plans to finish up his degree taking classes at UVA in the summers.

He will also use Charlottesville as a base for training in the summers, and hopes to be a resource for current and future ‘Hoos with his presence on Grounds in the future.

“To me, this program is family, so I root for this team like no other, and whatever the case may be, I’ll be their biggest fan, and I’ll still encourage the guys, talk to the young guys every chance that I get,” Anderson said.

– Story by Chris Graham

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Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is now available at a special pre-sale discounted price of $20. The book is expected to ship by June 10, 2019, and will retail for $25.
Pre-order for $20: click here.


The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
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