Virginia’s Justin Anderson plans to declare for the NBA Draft, according to a report from Yahoo Sports.
Anderson is a 6-foot-6 wing that was arguably Virginia’s best player for much of the season. He averaged 12.2 points and shot 45.2 percent from three, which is up significantly from the roughly 30 percent that he shot from beyond the arc during his first two seasons in Charlottesville.
Anderson’s season would have been all the more impressive if he hadn’t suffered two injuries in February. First, it was a fractured pinky that kept him out of the lineup for over a month, and the week he was set to return from that injury, Anderson needed an appendectomy.
Prior to getting hurt, Anderson was averaging 13.9 points and shooting 48.5 percent from three while populating most All-American lists. His injury was the biggest reason Virginia went from a team with national title aspirations to one that couldn’t get out of the first weekend of the tournament.
He’s projected as an early first round pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, according to Draft Express, but Anderson has a real shot of sneaking into the back end of the first round. If he can prove that he jump shot wasn’t wrecked by the pinky injury, his ability to defend will make him a prototypical three-and-D role player in the NBA for years.
This decision will be a blow for Virginia, who clearly missed Anderson late in the season. Not only was he their best three point shooter and one of their most dangerous scorers, but he’s an elite defensive player. If he had returned for the 2015-16 season, Virginia might have been the preseason No. 1 team in the country. As it stands, they will likely end up somewhere in the top five.
UPDATED: It doesn’t mean the report is wrong, but here is Justin Anderson’s response:
What? Where are you people getting this stuff? Geez! I just woke up!
Kaminsky has greatly outperformed expectations he had entering the season, even though he was a preseason all-american pick. He’s been sensational, leading the Badgers in scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks and steals. Not bad for a guy that averaged 10 minutes as a sophomore.
Jahlil Okafor, Duke (17.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg)
Okafor is an easy pick as well, as he was the most dominating offensive force in the country this season. To get an idea of just how good he can be, think about this: He’s not just a poor defender, he can be downright awful at times, and yet he’s going to finish the season as a consensus first team all-american and the runner-up to Kaminsky in the Player of the Year voting. Not bad.
D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State (19.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.2 apg)
If Kaminsky has been the nation’s best player and Okafor has been the most dominating offensive force, than Russell has to be the nation’s most entertaining player. He can take over a game with his ability to score, and he throws some absurd passes in transition. Can he be this year’s Shabazz Napier in the NCAA tournament?
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame (16.8 ppg, 6.7 apg)
The Irish have no business being a top ten team this season, but they are because Grant has been incredible. Notre Dame has one of the most potent offensive attacks in the country, and it all centers around Grant’s ability to make plays off the dribble and in ball-screen actions. He’s better than anyone else in the country at making his teammate’s better.
Cauley-Stein’s numbers don’t measure up to anyone else on the first team, but what he does best doesn’t necessarily show up in the scorebook. The Wildcats are downright dominant on the defensive end of the floor, and Cauley-Stein is the engine that drives them. He’s the best perimeter and the best interior defender in the country all at the same time.
NBCSPORTS.COM’S SECOND TEAM ALL-AMERICANS
Delon Wright, Utah (14.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 5.3 apg, 2.1 spg): Wright did so much for Utah this season, and while his numbers were impressive, it was his defense and ability to understand his strengths offensively that were most important to the Utes.
Kris Dunn, Providence (15.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 7.4 apg): The only reason Dunn isn’t in the conversation for National Player of the Year is that he turns the ball over too much. He was completely dominant at times this season.
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma (17.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg): Hield has a rep for being one of the nation’s best defenders, dating back to his freshman season. Now he’s also one of the best wing scorers.
Rico Gathers, Baylor (11.6 ppg, 11.7 rpg): Gathers is the nation’s best rebounder, an improving scorer on the block and a critical component for arguably the nation’s most surprising team.
Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse (17.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.5 bpg): He won’t get to showcase his ability this March, but there was not a more improved player in the country than Christmas this season.
NBCSPORTS.COM’S THIRD TEAM ALL-AMERICANS
T.J. McConnell, Arizona (9.6 ppg, 6.3 apg, 2.1 spg): McConnell’s numbers are nowhere near as impressive as the other lead guards here, but if you watched Arizona play over the last two months, you understand just how important he was to that team’s success.
Melo Trimble, Maryland (16.1 ppg, 3.1 apg): Maryland is ranked 31st in KenPom. Yet, they’re a top ten team that’s going to be a top four seed because they’re 11-0 in games decided by six points or less. Trimble is their ‘closer’. He earned this spot.
Justin Anderson, Virginia (13.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 48.5% 3PT): Anderson was in the mix for first team all-american when he broke his finger. He deserves recognition despite missing time.
Bobby Portis, Arkansas (17.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.5 bpg): I was called out by an Arkansas assistant coach for having Bobby Portis ranked 62nd in our top 100 players list in the preseason. That coach was right.
Seth Tuttle, Northern Iowa (15.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.3 apg): I’m fully on the Tuttle bandwagon. He’s a low-post scorer with three point range, the ability to put the ball on the floor and terrific vision. He’s Frank Kaminsky 2.0.
Justin Anderson out this weekend after undergoing appendectomy
Yesterday, the big news coming out of Charlottesville was that Virginia’s all-american guard Justin Anderson could end up returning to the lineup this weekend. He had been out for nearly four weeks after undergoing surgery on a fractured finger.
Today, not so much.
Virginia announced on Thursday that Anderson will be out of the lineup on Saturday after undergoing an appendectomy. His status for the ACC tournament has yet to be determined.
Good thing I wrote a Film Session today about how Virginia is the most likely team to beat Kentucky as long as Anderson is healthy.