Anderson showed exceptional talent early on

By: Matt Long
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The first time Steve Scott saw Ryan Anderson play a high school basketball game in 2002, he knew Anderson was a special player. Scott, then the varsity head coach at Oak Ridge, saw a 6-foot, 5-inch freshman dominate sophomores in junior varsity action. “I think he scored 18 points in the first quarter and I don’t know how many 3-pointers he had but he had a lot,” Scott said. “I knew then he was going to be a great player. “I don’t think any of us realized until he got to Cal how good he was going to be. He just kept getting better and better and that’s because he worked harder and harder.” The New Jersey Nets selected Anderson with the 21st pick in the Thursday’s NBA draft. Anderson, a 2006 graduate of Oak Ridge, led the school’s basketball team to a state championship in 2005 when he averaged 17 points and 9 rebounds as a junior, and then improved those numbers his senior year to 28 points and 10 rebounds a game. Oak Ridge’s record over those two years was 57-7. Anderson, 20, then played two years at Cal, where the 6-foot, 10-inch, 240-pound forward averaged 18 points and 9 rebounds. He declared himself eligible for the NBA draft after his sophomore season and the Nets picked him late in the first round of Thursday’s draft. While Anderson hasn’t returned calls from the Telegraph, he has remained in touch with his friends. Billy Nunes played with Anderson during his senior year and is not surprised by his friend’s accomplishments. “I thought he was big enough and good enough to make the pros,” Nunes said. “He has the range. He’s been put in the spotlight and he keeps proving himself at each level.” Like Nunes, Kevin James, who played with Anderson on Oak Ridge’s state championships team, felt he could reach the pros. “I knew he had a chance in high school, but he developed a lot in college,” James said. “He grew another inch taller and became more athletic. That’s where he became a NBA player.” James doesn’t talk to Anderson that often, but tries to stay in touch when he knows Anderson is in town. “He’ll call me asking if I want to play some pick-up games,” James said. “He’s the same guy as he was in high school.” Scott was thrilled by Anderson’s selection in the draft. “I was just super excited for Ryan and his family and for the El Dorado Hills community,” Scott said.