How Christian Anderson Jr. is taking his 15-year basketball foundation to the Maize and Blue | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Wednesday / January 26.
  • How Christian Anderson Jr. is taking his 15-year basketball foundation to the Maize and Blue

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    By JACOB POLACHECK

    ATLANTA – He’s been called the best underrated basketball player ever. Take one step into the Lovett High School gym in north Atlanta and you’ll find out why. 

    Rocking a pair of Gold 13th Generation Kevin Durant sneakers, Christian Anderson Jr. leaves defenders spinning with such an advanced skill set that even former NBA players can’t help but be amazed. 

    When Anderson was just a one-year-old toddler, his parents took his pile of plastic basketballs and threw them in the trash. In exchange, they handed him a regulation NBA basketball. 

    It didn’t take long for Anderson to put that ball to use, practicing everyday and slowly developing his shot into the near-automatic missile it is today. 

    “That’s why – and you can quote me on this – he has an even more natural shot than Steph Curry,” his father Christian Sr. said. “Because it took Steph a long time to get into that and his dad had to come back and really work with him.” 

    Anderson Sr., who played professionally in Europe for more than a decade, has worked to cultivate a basketball network for his son, surrounding him with former and current NBA players such as Paul Millsap, Steve Smith and Dennis Scott, each amazed by the mature play of the 15-year-old phenom. 

    Christian’s younger brother, Lucai, jokes with him that he’s not a thoroughbred because of his short time playing baseball at the age of 4, as limited as that experience was. While the other kids would prepare attentively for the next at bat, Christian would sit in the outfield with his glove off, firing it into the air like a basketball.  

    “That’s when we knew, this is not the sport for him,” his mother Yolanda said. 

    As much as the Anderson family saw the importance in promoting a wide range of athletic experiences, it soon became clear that Christian was not your average, run of the mill youngster. 

    “It’s fantastic until you realize you have a little Beethoven,” Christian Sr. said. “He’s not going to play 17 different instruments. He’s going to play one and he does it extremely well.”  

    When Anderson turned eight years old, his father took him to a local neighborhood basketball club in the Buckhead district of Atlanta, looking to earn his spot on Adrian Collins’ fourth grade team. 

    “This is a joke, right? ” Collins, founder of the Runna Report, a basketball scouting service working to discover prospects across the globe, said at the time. “I was looking at this little kid, trying to figure out why he’s here.” 

    Collins, who previously had experience working with top youth prospects such as Wendell Carter and Collin Sexton, got a firsthand look at the extraordinary talent of Anderson. His attitude quickly shifted, even going as far as to call him ‘the best player on the court by far’. 

    “I started to get a feel for how a real basketball player is created from the beginning,” Collins said. “It’s not just working out four or five hours a day. It was a way more strategic approach.” 

    Collins has been one of Anderson’s most fervent supporters for years. When he spotted Michigan head men’s basketball coach Juwan Howard at a live period event at LakePoint Sports in July of 2021, he recognized his time to strike. Collins walked up to coach Howard, made a quick remark about a previous encounter to break the ice and then recommended that he take a look at Anderson. 

    “Christian made three quick impact plays in a row and then (Coach Howard) beelined to his court and watched the whole second half,” Collins said. 

    It only took one half of basketball for Howard to be sold. Then, after a few phone calls, a scholarship offer and two campus visits, Anderson was sold as well. 

    “They were really the first people to believe in what I can do,” Anderson Jr. said. “They didn’t just want my skills, but they wanted the whole package.” 

    Instead of taking the traditional route of touring numerous colleges and making a senior year decision, Anderson announced his commitment to Michigan on Oct. 6, more than a month prior to the start of his sophomore season and two years before he can officially sign his national letter of intent.

    “There was an immediate connection,” Lovett High School basketball coach and assistant athletic director Mike Harner said. “When they see something they trust, they go for it.”

    Still three years away from stepping foot on a college court for the first time, Anderson is putting on a masterclass in scoring prowess this season, averaging 32 points per game on 49 percent shooting, while shooting 43 percent from three point range. 

    Anderson’s status as an elite bucket-getter came to a head on Nov. 23, in just his third game of his sophomore campaign, when he scored 55 points on 22-for-33 from the field in a 81-73 win over Midtown (GA) High School. 

    “It was just phenomenal,” Harner said. “With some of the shots he finishes around the basket in traffic, I’m still amazed at how he finishes at the rim.” 

    At 5-foot-8, 120-pounds, Anderson uses his small frame to produce at an incredibly efficient clip, unfazed by the size of his opponents and locked into his mission of becoming one of the best basketball players to ever step foot on the hardwood. 

    “He’s such a good shooter that we’re surprised as coaches when he misses,” Harner said. “Teams are doing everything they can to try and take him away and he’s still able to produce and shoot at a high clip.”

    His short stature is particularly curious when you take a look at his family. His father stands at 6-foot-6, his mother at 5-foot-9 and his sister at 5-foot-11. 

    When the Anderson family took Christian to see an endocrinologist to get more answers on his unique frame, they learned that his bone age, which helps doctors estimate the maturity of a child’s skeletal system, is closer to that of a 12 or 13 year old. 

    “He’s just going to grow until he’s 20 years old,” Christian Sr. said. 

    As far as his future, Anderson and his father remain without worry, strategizing and building a plan to execute on a plan that’s been in the works for 15 years, striving to reach new heights.

    “He has a 15-year-old foundation of basketball already,” Christian Sr. said. “He never doubted that he wanted to do anything else and he’s paying that price.” 

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