Oak Ridge basketball players meet former Trojan Anderson

By: Patrick Ibarra
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The Oak Ridge High School freshman boys basketball team wanted a perfect way to end the season. A 12-0 Sierra Valley Conference record and 26-1 season was almost perfect. Meeting Oak Ridge alumnus and current University of California, Berkeley basketball player Ryan Anderson made for a pretty sweet dessert. We wanted to take the boys to meet someone I consider a perfect role model for what Oak Ridge basketball is all about, said freshman coach Patrick Ibarra, who along with players' parents, organized the Feb. 9 trip to Cal to watch the Bears play Oregon. Ryan's established himself as a possible first-round draft pick in the NBA with his play, and his personality off the court is even more impressive than his abilities on it. He's a great guy our kids can look up to. The Trojans traveled to watch Anderson's team play the Ducks in a Pac-10 game, one Cal lost 92-70. Afterwards Anderson was all smiles, though; greeting freshman players along with four varsity players who had also made the trip on their own. He spoke to the freshmen about the hard work he had to put in to get where he is now. You can do whatever you put your mind to, Anderson told the boys. Never give up. Stick with your dreams. I came in and people doubted me. I worked really hard. No one said I could play Division I college ball. It was tough, he added. I always had dreams to play college ball. I worked hard to get where I am. Anderson, who helped lead the Trojans to the state title in 2005, averaged 28.9 points, 10.9 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game his senior year at Oak Ridge before heading to Cal last year as a freshman. With the Bears, he averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game as a true freshman, and this year leads his team with 22 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. It's crazy”it's gone by so fast, Anderson said of his first two years of college play. Don't take things for granted. Take things one at a time. Players were inspired by not only his words, but to their surprise, the work he had to put in on top of his natural talent. Anderson said it was an uphill battle his freshman and sophomore year of high school before he really settled into his abilities and took over. It's good to have someone to look up to who grew up in the same environment as Oak Ridge basketball players do, freshman co-captain Matt Bone said. He just kept saying to keep working hard and never give up on your dreams, no matter what, said Tyler Simms, the team's other co-captain. It was a great experience and it really helps us realize how hard we have to work to be able to play. Overall, the team enjoyed the time they got to share with the college superstar, who may be part of a NBA franchise in the near future. Ryan's a celebrity already, especially in the minds of our guys, Ibarra said. He's got a great head on his shoulders, and I wanted the kids to see that with hard work and perseverance, along with the right attitude toward life, they too could one day accomplish a dream like Ryan's. He was one of them years ago. That went a long way with our guys.