Alton's Carlos Anderson signed a letter of intent to play men's basketball at SIUE on Monday at AHS. Pictured from left to right are: Redbirds' head coach Eric Smith, Anderson and Janell Campbell, mother.
ALTON — Carlos Anderson put it down on paper Monday at Alton High School — he's going to SIUE.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound senior for the Redbirds signed his letter of intent to stay home and play for the Cougars starting in 2015-16. He's ready to embrace being the local face of the local Division-I basketball program.
“There is a nice comfortability there and it's close to home,” Anderson said. “I have a nice relationship with the players and the coaches there. I think I'll have a bright future there.
“I like (being the local guy). It just puts a chip on your shoulder and the motivation to keep working hard and SIUE gives me the opportunity to leave a legacy there. I want to lead SIUE wherever they need to go.”
SIUE head coach Lennox Forrester is happy to add a key piece to the program and remain local to do it.
“Carlos is a big-time local talent,” Forrester said in a press release Monday. “He is very strong and tough.”
As a junior at Alton, Anderson averaged 10.4 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game, while only playing in 13 games due to injury. He broke his hand during the Carbondale Holiday Tournament and missed the middle portion of the season.
AHS head coach Eric Smith points to Anderson's versatility as making him a great pickup for the Cougars. Due to necessity he plays more in the post for the Redbirds, but Smith said he will move to the perimeter when he gets to SIUE.
The Cougars are part of the Ohio Valley Conference, where they went 11-20 overall and 7-9 in conference play in '13-14. They qualified for the OVC Tournament for the first time, but lost 74-67 Tennessee Tech in their first game.
“He's one of the most athletic kids we've had around here,” Smith said. “Just his versatility and all the different things he can do, it will be exciting for us to see him get the opportunity in college and to play a little differently than he's asked to in high school. I think he'll be able to showcase a little bit more of what people don't get to see him do in high school.
“They're looking at him to be a perimeter player. The exciting part is going to be for people to see him do something in college he doesn't do here. Just because of our lack of size he's kind of asked to play a little more inside than I would like, but he has the ability to do some of those things on the perimeter and with work and all the things they're going to put him through they are going to make him a little better. People are going to get to see — not a completely different player — but a different player in certain ways.”
Forrester added, "He has a strong body and can rebound from the guard spot. He's a versatile player who can play multiple positions for us.
"Carlos is a great fit for our program. Not only is he a talented athlete, but he is a great student and citizen."
The comfort factor with the Cougars is a huge factor for Anderson, too. He doesn't foresee much of a transition from Alton to SIUE for him personally.
“You wouldn't even know that I was a recruit or anything,” Anderson said. “It felt like I'd been on the team for awhile when I first went out there. When I first went there they accepted me and that's what I was looking for. I was just looking for a place I could call home and that's what they gave me.”
But before he calls the Vadalabene Center home, he has one more season in front of him with the Redbirds and after posting a 22-6 record and a 10-4 mark in the Southwestern Conference in '13-14, expectations are high in Alton this season. Smith said Anderson will steer those expectations for the Bird.
“We'll go as much as Carlos will take us,” Smith said. “He's kind of that X-factor for us because he does so many different things offensively and defensively for us. He's a hard matchup for people in the conference. Teams may have people as big as him, but they may not be able to guard him on the perimeter, so we can do a lot of different things with him offensively and then we'll also get bailed out defensively just because of his athleticism. He's definitely a big key for us this year in what we want to try and accomplish and just the leadership of him being in the conference for three years. He has a expectation of what we should accomplish and through all of the battles and struggles he's been through the last couple years, he understands what it's going to take to go into an Edwardsville, or an O'Fallon, or an East Side with the conference on the line. That's the exciting part, what we're going to get from him.”
Alton will open the season at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 25 against Northwest Academy at AHS in the Alton Tip-Off Classic.