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: