Braeden Anderson, a late-blooming basketball prospect from the town of Okotoks, Alberta, Canada, has read what the recruiting analysts think of him.
“Everybody says, ‘His best basketball is ahead of him.’ It’s true,” said Anderson, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound senior power forward out of Wilbraham and Monson Academy in Massachusetts who has orally committed to play basketball at Kansas University.
The three-star player, who was once committed to DePaul and is currently unranked by Rivals.com, chose the Jayhawks over Kentucky, Arizona, Florida, Missouri and Memphis.
“I came to the States a year after making basketball my No. 1 sport,” said Anderson, who played football — never hockey — as a youth in Okotoks (Pop. 23,104), located 11 miles south of Calgary.
He abandoned dreams of being a pro wide receiver during his sophomore year of high school, concentrating instead on hoops.
“The first time I touched a ball seriously was eighth grade. I have a ton to learn. I’m getting better every day. Now I get to learn under (KU big-man coach) Danny Manning, which will be an honor,” Anderson added.
Anderson, who played ball at Christian Faith Center outside of Raleigh, N.C., his junior year, averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds a game this past season at Wilbraham and Monson.
He withdrew from the prep school last month for undisclosed reasons and is now wrapping up his high school academic work (a final Spanish class) online.
He has been considered one of the hottest available frontcourt prospects leading into the late spring signing period, which begins Wednesday.
“KU hit me first and the hardest,” Anderson said Sunday in a phone conversation. “They did things the right way. I have respect for them for that. They’ve always been there, and they hung around the whole time.
“It’s hard to say no to John Calipari and the (Kentucky) Wildcats,” he added. “Derrick Williams ... he tells me to go to Arizona. It’s tough to say no to Arizona, but this is something I want to do. It’s a gut feeling I have.”
Anderson — he made a campus visit to KU the first week of March — first committed to KU assistant coach Joe Dooley during Dooley’s in-home visit to his home Saturday in Okotoks. Anderson, however, asked Dooley to keep it a secret so he could inform KU coach Bill Self of the decision Sunday morning, which he did.
“Coach (Self) had no idea why I was calling. I said, ‘I’m coming to Kansas,’’’ Anderson said. “He was fired up. He said, ‘It makes my week. It makes my month now.’ This wasn’t really planned, but everything felt right. When coach Dooley showed my parents the (KU highlight) videos, it reminded me of my visit. I mean, I’m fired up. I honestly can’t wait to be part of the family in Lawrence.”
He said he was sold on KU on the visit, but needed to have his parents meet a member of the Jayhawk staff.
“The best thing about my trip was the fieldhouse,” Anderson said, referring to Allen Fieldhouse. “I’m really looking forward to playing in there.”
Of possible immediate playing time, he said: “When I saw the (Morris) twins sign with agents, it was an eye-opener. I’ll let hard work and play do my talking. I’m sure coach Self and his staff will make the decision on my playing time. I want to do what I can to win another championship.”
Anderson’s former AAU coach, former University of San Francisco standout John Hegwood, says the Jayhawks are getting a prize player.
“I’ve been coaching him since seventh, eighth grade. He’s come a long way. He’s a workaholic,” Hegwood said. “He’s a kid who will get after it. He’ll attack the glass on both ends, hit the boards. He’s an outstanding jumper and can run the floor.
“I know they have Danny Manning there. Braeden will benefit a ton from him.”
Anderson sees himself as a “face up 4-man. I can play in the high-low system well. I can pass from the high post. I make the mid-range shot and can step out to three. I am probably similar to Marcus Morris, but a bit more bouncy. It’s a huge facet of my game.”
As far as Anderson the person, “He’s a kid in a man’s body,” Hegwood said. “He is an enthusiastic kid. He asks a lot of questions. He wants to learn. He’s inquisitive.
“I’m really proud of him. I saw a lot in Braeden he didn’t always see in himself. I told him he could play wherever he wanted to if he’d apply himself. He did that. I think he’ll do a great job at Kansas.”
Anderson’s hometown of Okotoks is home of “The Big Rock” — the world’s largest glacial erratic. The rock is larger than a house and is 41 meters long, 18 meters wide and nine meters high.
Simpson to Memphis
Stan Simpson, a 6-10, 230-pound forward from Logan College in Carterville, Ill., told Zagsblog.com on Sunday he has committed to Memphis over KU, Kentucky and UConn.
KU, which signed point guard Naadir Tharpe in November, has received commitments from Anderson and shooting guard/small forward Ben McLemore.
KU has three remaining scholarships to give in the Class of 2011, four if Josh Selby declares for the NBA Draft. Previously a walk-on, Conner Teahan received a scholarship this year because one was available.
The monthlong spring signing period begins Wednesday.
KU will hold its postseason awards banquet tonight at the Holidome. It’s for Williams Fund members only and has long been sold out.