Beejay Anya

VIDEO: NC State builds teamwork through ‘The Program’

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While the offseason for college basketball programs is very much about helping individual players improve their skill sets with an eye towards the upcoming season, it’s also about improving teamwork and leadership traits. In recent years more teams have gone to some form of military-influenced training to help in those areas, and there have been positive results. VCU and Utah are among those who have used such methods to help them on the court, and NC State has taken a similar path.

Mark Gottfried’s team, coming off of a Sweet 16 appearance, participated in The Program, a two-day session led by instructors and United States Marine Corps veterans Jake MacDonald and Jamie Slife with an eye towards improving in areas such as teamwork, leadership and communication. Those aspects will be important for a team that lost three of its top four scorers from a season ago in Trevor Lacey, Ralston Turner and Kyle Washington.

Above is a short video of the team’s experience in The Program, with multiple players having to step forward in leadership roles. Guards Cat Barber and Terry Henderson and big men Abdul-Malik Abu and BeeJay Anya were among those entrusted with the task of leading certain drills, and at the end of the camp Caleb Martin received the Spartan Warrior t-shirt that all participants strive to earn.

The Wolfpack have the talent to make yet another NCAA tournament appearance under Gottfried, but in an ACC that will be tougher than it was a season ago the intangibles improved upon in The Program could prove to be highly valuable during the season.

Video credit: NC State Athletics

N.C. State’s Beejay Anya continues weight battle

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N.C. State junior big man Beejay Anya has struggled to maintain a consistent playing weight during his basketball career, but it appears that he’s making progress as we get closer to the 2015-16 season.

In a tweet this week from Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, Anya’s weight was reported at 284 pounds, down from 320 that Anya was at during the offseason. That’s great news for Anya and the Wolfpack, but we’ve also heard this same song-and-dance about his weight loss before.

Before the start of his sophomore season last fall, Anya’s weight loss was once again a focus, as we found out that he had gone down from 349 pounds at one point in his N.C. State career to 290 pounds. Fox Sports’ Lauren Brownlow chronicled in an October 2014 story how this had become somewhat of a trend with Anya over the last few years of his career:

That’s been Anya’s struggle. His weight yo-yoed up and down for much of his final two years of high school, and he was listed at 275 as a senior. Then he reported to Raleigh in the summer of 2013 at 337 pounds, somehow. They started him with a nutritionist and strength and conditioning coach Bob Alejo right away. Somehow, he gained weight before the start of the season, exasperating his head coach Mark Gottfried.

He was able to drop about 20 pounds before the start of last season, but the weight gain-loss-gain-loss-gain roller-coaster continued, seemingly never-ending. He averaged 11.8 minutes a game and scored 2.1 points, adding 1.4 blocks and 2.1 rebounds, but he ended the season back to where he had been before it started, weight-wise.

Things didn’t look good for Anya even as soon as a few months ago. Powell Latimer of Greensboro.com mentioned in a report from July that Anya was over 300 pounds again with head coach Mark Gottfried saying, “that’s kind of a tired subject to me.”

Anya issues maintaining his ideal playing weight aside, he does deserve credit for figuring things out before the season to get in better shape. It’s not ideal that Anya continues to put on weight in the summer, as he might get hurt and it also might burn him out a little bit earlier in the season.

Either way, N.C. State needs Anya to produce down low this season as their interior depth took a hit with the loss of transfer Kyle Washington. If Anya is reliable, the Wolfpack could be in solid position for another postseason run.

BeeJay Anya’s buzzer-beating jump hook pushes No. 8 NC State past No. 9 LSU

Beejay Anya, Tim Quarterman
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No. 8 NC State and No. 9 LSU have both managed to show flashes of their potential this season, but they’ve also shown a lack of consistency that tends to be a main characteristic of teams that land in the 8/9 matchup. With that being the case, maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that the two teams played a game that was both exciting and befuddling.

But all that matters is the end result, and thanks to a BeeJay Anya jump hook with one tenth of a second remaining the Wolfpack won by the final score of 66-65.

Next up for the Wolfpack is East Region No. 1 Villanova, which coasted to a win over No. 16 Lafayette in the first game of the evening session in Pittsburgh.

Anya’s game-winner capped a stunning collapse for LSU, which led by 14 points (62-48) with 9:13 remaining. From that point forward LSU scored just three points, all coming from the foul line, as they missed their final 12 shots from the field. Add in the fact that Johnny Jones’ Tigers also missed their final six free throws of the game, and it isn’t took difficult to see why NC State had the opportunity to come back.

But even with that opportunity a team has to take advantage, and thanks in part to Kyle Washington NC State was able to do so. Washington scored seven of his nine points in the early stages of the Wolfpack’s 18-3 game-ending run, and from there his teammates stepped forward on both ends of the floor.

Trevor Lacey added five points and Abdul-Malik Abu two during the run, with Anya responsible for the final four points of the game. And after being worn out by the tandem of Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey for most of the first 30 minutes of the game, the NC State front court stepped forward when Mark Gottfried needed them most. Add in Cat Barber’s team-high 17 points, and the Wolfpack were able to find a way to win.

NC State has the talent to give Villanova trouble on Saturday, but the key for them will be consistency. They can ill-afford to play as they did for the majority of Thursday’s win against the Wildcats, as that would lead to defeat. Play as they did in the final 9:15 Thursday night, and the Wolfpack have a shot at pulling off the upset.

adidas Nations college counselor Superlatives

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LONG BEACH, California — The 2014 version of adidas Nations is behind us now, but with CBT‘s Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips both in attendance, they decided to break down some of the college counselors by going over a list of superlatives for the week. Be sure to look out for high school superlatives as well as brief recaps of every college counselor in attendance later this week on College Basketball Talk.

Click here for CBT’s coverage from adidas Nations

BEST PERFORMER:

  • Norman Powell (UCLA): Of the college players at the camp Arizona’s Stanley Johnson would likely be the highest draft pick if there were a draft today, and that will likely be the case in June as well. But the honor of best performer at adidas Nations goes to Powell, who was consistent on both ends of the floor throughout the weekend. The rising senior was aggressive offensively without being reckless, and if he can carry over that level of play into the season that bodes well for Steve Alford’s Bruins. (RJ)
  • Terran Petteway (Nebraska): Since Louisville guard Terry Rozier had some inconsistent performances down the stretch, I’ll go with Petteway, who had an impressive week at adidas Nations by knocking in perimeter jumpers, attacking the basket and defending hard at the other end. He’s one of the college counselors who stared NBA veteran Arron Afflalo in the eye and didn’t flinch. After a big year in the Big Ten last season, Petteway looks like he’ll once again be one of the league’s best players this coming season. (SP)
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WANTED TO SEE MORE FROM:

  • Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin): Kaminsky is considered by many to be the top face-up big man in college basketball, and based upon the way he played as a junior that’s a fair label to give him. But the perimeter shots weren’t falling in Long Beach, and what was even more concerning was the lack of consistency on the boards. He’ll play better during the season, but it would have been nice to see him do more in front of the NBA scouts in attendance. (RJ)
  • Zak Irvin (Michigan): Since Raphielle picked Kaminsky and Louisiana Lafayette’s Shawn Long only played two days of the camp, I’ll go with Michigan sophomore wing Zak Irvin, who didn’t appear to be much better than when I last saw him in Indianapolis during the Sweet 16/Elite Eight weekend. Irvin can still perform as a catch-and-shoot player, but after losing Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary, Irvin needs to step up this season and do more off-the-bounce. That didn’t happen at adidas Nations. Irvin struggled with two-dribble pull-ups and was stripped multiple times while trying to drive to the basket. Still plenty of time before November, but Irvin doesn’t look much better than last season. (SP)

BIGGEST SURPRISE:

  • Tony Parker (UCLA): In all honesty I didn’t expect much from Parker, based largely upon his inconsistent play during his first two seasons at UCLA. However Parker held his own, working hard on the glass and converting many of the opportunities he was able to find around the basket. The question for Parker: can he provide UCLA with consistent minutes throughout the season? Even with the talented trio joining the UCLA front court (Jonah Bolden, Kevon Looney and Thomas Welsh), the Bruins are going to need something from Parker this season. (RJ)
  • BeeJay Anya (N.C. State): There were stories of Anya’s weight loss since the end of last season, but he clearly looks like a player who has redefined his game heading into his sophomore season. Since Anya has lost so much weight, he’s getting up and down the floor much better, getting better lift off of the ground and also making hustle plays that he would never try to make before. The improved lift and mobility means Anya was more confident as a low-post scorer and his tremendous wingspan also makes him a difference as a weakside shot blocker. I like this version of BeeJay Anya much better and I’m sure N.C. State fans will agree with me. (SP)

BEST NBA DRAFT PROSPECT:

  • Stanley Johnson (Arizona): Simply put, the incoming freshman is a grown man. He was aggressive in driving to the basket, finishing above the rim on multiple occasions, and he knocked down his perimeter shots at a solid clip as well. And Johnson held his own against Arron Afflalo on Saturday night when the Denver Nuggets guard joined the scrimmages. (RJ)
  • Stanley Johnson (Arizona): Not to piggyback off the same player as my colleague, but Johnson was really good this week and has improved his body even more since entering college this summer. Kelly Oubre and Terry Rozier are both good NBA Draft prospects as well at this current juncture, but with Johnson’s size, athleticism, skill and tenacious work ethic, he’s the frontrunner of the group that played at adidas Nations this week. There’s a reason Tracy McGrady and Afflalo went at Johnson the most and it’s because they respected his ability to give them a fair fight as an incoming college freshman. (SP)

adidas Nations Friday College Recap: Derrick Walton Jr.’s distribution skills, BeeJay Anya’s weight loss on display

Derrick Walton Jr. (AP Photo)
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Although there are nine different teams of high school-aged players at the adidas Nations event in Long Beach, California, there are also 28 college players serving as counselors. In addition to helping the coaches work with the high school players, the college counselors are also getting in some game action in front of NBA scouts and executives. Below are a couple notes on Friday’s play, with their being just one round of game play following a morning session of skill work.

– Derrick Walton Jr. had a good day running the show for his team.

As a freshman at Michigan Derrick Walton Jr. started 36 of the 37 games in which he played, which was a necessity considering the fact that Trey Burke entered the NBA Draft following his sophomore season. Walton improved as the season wore on, posting averages of 7.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists on a team that won the Big Ten regular season title outright and reached the Elite Eight. And with Nik Stauskas now in the NBA, Walton is one of the returnees who will need to step forward for John Beilein in 2014-15.

On Friday Walton was very good with regards to distributing the basketball, making sound decisions in the pick-and-roll game and getting his teammates the ball where they were best positioned to enjoy success. One of the beneficiaries was teammate Zak Irvin, who knocked down multiple jump shots on the tail end of those Walton passes. With an eye towards next season, this weekend will be good for the two Wolverines as they (along with Caris LeVert) are the ones best positioned for a breakout 2014-15.

ALSO: UCLA senior guard Norman Powell on the 2014-15 season

– A slimmer BeeJay Anya displays increased stamina, athleticism.

Anya didn’t play as well as he would have liked Friday, but a positive to take out of his effort was the amount of weight he’s lost after arriving at NC State weighing 337 pounds according to the Fayetteville Observer. Anya stated during a break in the action that he’s dropped some 56 pounds, and the impact the weight loss has had on his stamina and athleticism was noticeable. He ran the floor better than he did at any point last season and was consistent in doing so; one good sprint of the floor wasn’t followed by a period of loafing. And around the rim Anya looked more fluid in his movements, resulting in better opportunities to score.

The loss of T.J. Warren was a big one for the Wolfpack, but they have some solid returnees due back along with the addition of a solid freshman class and Alabama transfer Trevor Lacey. If Anya and his teammates prove capable of stepping forward to account for the production lost with the departures of Warren and leading assist man Tyler Lewis, NC State could surprise some people in the ACC.

“We need to pick up the scoring [as a group],” Anya told NBCSports.com when asked how the Wolfpack will look to account for the loss of Warren’s scoring ability. “We’re a balanced team, and we plan on having multiple players average double figures. So in order for us to do that we’re going to have to play as a team, move the ball around and be able to play physically. It’s going to be hard, but I think we’re very capable of doing it.”

– Perry Ellis’ name has to be mentioned when discussing Big 12 Player of the Year candidates.

After averaging 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game as a freshman, the Kansas forward emerged as one of the Big 12’s most improved players as he accounted for 13.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Yet with the presence of freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, Ellis’ contributions were only good enough for a spot on the Big 12’s third team all-conference squad as voted on by the coaches. While there will be a lot of competition for not only a spot on the league’s first team all-conference team but also Big 12 Player of the Year, Ellis has shown signs of progressing into being that kind of player at both the LeBron James Skills Academy and now adidas Nations.

Ellis has looked like a polished player offensively, knocking down perimeter shots while also being skilled enough to score in the paint. Kansas won’t lack for talent, as is usually the case, but Ellis will need to be a leader for this group. And if his play in July is any indication, Ellis is ready to face that challenge head-on (and excel).

Mark Gottfried adds to strong recruiting class with DeMatha center BeeJay Anya

Mark Gottfried
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Since taking over as the head coach at NC State, coach Mark Gottfried has made the Wolfpack a legitimate threat on the national recruiting scene.

It began last season with his three-man recruiting class, all three of whom were McDonald’s All-Americans, and continued in 2013 with the additions of Anthony “Cat” Barber and Kyle Washington.

On Friday, Gottfried secured another commitment, grabbing a pledge from 2013 DeMatha (D.C.) center BeeJay Anya.

Anya, a 6-9, 275-pound prospect who plays for the powerhouse Team Takeover DC AAU program, has dropped a significant amount of weight over the last two years, which has expanded his game, made him more mobile, and made him more of a threat on both ends of the floor.

The race for Anya’s commitment was considered to be relatively one-sided throughout and Gottfried now solidifies himself as a high-level recruiter in the ACC. He already has the Wolfpack in the nation’s Top-10 this season, and this string of successes on the recruiting trail could help to solidify that for at least the next few years.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_