Photo by Bill Roseberry
SIUE freshman Carlos Anderson looks to drive around a Saint Louis University defender on Nov. 18 at the Vadalabene Center. Anderson, a 2015 Alton High grad, is starting for the Cougars in his first collegiate season.
It’s a new adventure for Carlos Anderson and he’s already relishing it.
Anderson, a key basketball player at Alton High the past four seasons, is making a smooth transition to the college game. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Anderson, a freshman guard at SIUE, has busted into the Cougars’ starting lineup.
“It’s an awesome experience to come straight from high school basketball to college ball and be starting,” Anderson said. “I’m looking to fulfill my role on the team — whatever coach wants — and help our team win.”
He did that in SIUE’s opener. Anderson scored seven points, grabbed seven rebounds and collected three assists Nov. 13 as the Cougars defeated Arkansas State, 79-70, at the Vadalabene Center.
Then the Cougars fell to neighbor Saint Louis University, 70-60, on Nov. 18 in front of 3,931 fans at the V.C. Anderson collected 13 points, six rebounds and five assists in that game. Anderson hit a pair of 3-pointers and also contributed a dunk.
“He’s going to be a good player,” Billikens’ coach Jim Crews said of Anderson. “He’s a good athlete and competitive kid.”
SIUE, which lost 87-67 Saturday at IPFW, welcomed Campbell on Tuesday at the V.C. SIUE then goes to Butler on Saturday. So the Cougars are 1-2 early on and that’s a good sign for a team picked to finish last in the West Division of the Ohio Valley Conference.
Perhaps the Cougars will be better than advertised, and if so, Anderson, who has contributed 22 points and 15 rebounds thus far, likely will have something to say about it. They don’t return home until Dec. 12 when Portland State comes calling. On Dec. 9, they have a rivalry game at SIUC.
“We’ve been working hard and we’re going good as a team,” said SIUE sophomore Jalen Henry, a 6-8 forward from Springfield. He made that observation following the Cougars’ opening-game win.
Anderson wants to be part of a good thing, just like he was for the Alton Redbirds. They strung together a 49-11 record his final two seasons for them. Now, he’s a Cougar and proud of it.
“I have a lot of support and it’s great to have (local) people that want to come out and see me play,” Anderson said. “They will ask me for tickets and how I’m doing. It’s an awesome feeling.”
First-year Cougars’ head coach Jon Harris, a 1998 Edwardsville High graduate, said Anderson’s play could spur the Cougars in a transition season.
“I think you can expect a lot from Carlos in what you saw in our first game,” Harris said. “He’s an intelligent player, a competitor and he puts a lot of pressure on himself.”
Harris added, “On most nights, we will be our best defender. What we need to do is get him to become most aggressive on the offensive end.”
Anderson had plenty of smooth moves at Alton while serving as the leader of a very successful team his senior season. He worked with Darrius Edwards (now at Southwestern Illinois College) and Bryan Hudson (pitching in the minors for the Chicago Cubs) in leading the Redbirds to a 27-5 record, including a regional championship. The Redbirds made it all the way to the Class 4A sectional finals.
Anderson averaged 10.7 ppg and earned all-Southwestern Conference honors for the second successive season.
“Carlos was kind of an X-factor for us because he did so many different things offensively and defensively,” AHS head coach Eric Smith said.
His role this season starts at the defensive end. Anderson is serving as a “stopper,” which means Harris wants him to contain opposing scorers.
“I’m finding my role and getting comfortable with it,” Anderson said. “I’m learning the mental aspect of basketball and learning to be precise on everything. You have to be aware of every player on the floor and what they can do. Every player at this level is good and you can’t take days off. You have to be a student of the game because everything you do is important.”
Anderson’s task is to make everything he does count for the Cougars. Off the court, he’s considering majoring in industrial engineering or financial management. On the court, he’s strictly business.
“That’s what coach Harris talks about since he’s a guy that’s all about business,” Anderson said. “He has a purpose and is on a mission.”
So is Anderson.
“I want to be dominant in every aspect of the game and be a vocal leader — for a freshman,” he said. “And I want to be precise. Everything is for a purpose. It’s all learning for me right now. I’m learning what I can do and what I can’t do.”
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