Albany County

Healthy again, UAlbany men’s basketball’s Anderson seeks to impress in 2020-21

Jojo Anderson, left, defends Jackson Brown during Wednesday's UAlbany men's basketball practice at SEFCU Arena. (Peter R. Barber)

Jojo Anderson, left, defends Jackson Brown during Wednesday's UAlbany men's basketball practice at SEFCU Arena. (Peter R. Barber)

Categories: -The Daily Gazette, College Sports, Sports

ALBANY — Jojo Anderson laughed as he said it.

It’s been that type of run, though, for the UAlbany men’s basketball guard.

“To be honest,” Anderson said Wednesday, “I don’t really know what 100% feels like.”

But a smiling Anderson assured reporters before Wednesday’s practice, the first one with 5-on-5 work this preseason for the Great Danes, that he’s “ready to go” following a 2019-20 season that only saw Anderson appear in six games. That abbreviated season for Anderson was because of a left knee that never cooperated with the program’s, and Anderson’s, desire to see the 6-foot-3 guard become a key cog in UAlbany’s playing rotation.

Now?

“This is probably the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Anderson said.

Anderson injured his knee last year, right before the Great Danes’ preseason started. A meniscectomy in mid-October allowed Anderson a chance to try to play last season, but his campaign ended in mid-January after playing 62 minutes to undergo ACL reconstruction surgery in an effort to make sure he’d be ready for the 2020-21 season.

Those knee surgeries followed Anderson finding out he had Type 1 diabetes during the 2018-19 season he spent at Nevada as a non-scholarship player. Prior to that, Anderson — who spent his first two college seasons at Northern Arizona — had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and the byproduct of the initial misdiagnosis was that the Houston native often felt sluggish and sick.

Anderson gained nearly 40 pounds after he started up proper treatment for his Type 2 diabetes, and he’d hoped to use last season to show he could be a force in the America East Conference as a healthy version of himself. His knee injury, though, didn’t allow for that. Now, the fifth-year senior is intent on making up for lost time for head coach Will Brown’s team, which lost star point guard Ahmad Clark to graduation.

“Going into this year, I know what [Brown] expects from the point guard position,” Anderson said. “I think with a legitimate opportunity, I can have individual success — and I believe if I have individual success with the keys to the car, I think this team will have a lot of success.”

Anderson was pegged to play ample minutes alongside Clark last season after impressing the UAlbany coaching staff during the program’s summer exhibition games in Canada. This season, he’s competing along with incoming guards Will Amica and Jamel Horton — the former a freshman, the latter a junior who previously played at Pratt Community College — to serve as UAlbany’s lead guard.

“You’ve got three guards that are ready to go,” Anderson said.

Brown described himself as “anxious” to see Anderson play this preseason. The coach viewed Anderson as a player capable of being a double-digit scorer prior to his injury last season, and whether Anderson is able to reach that level of success this season will likely play a large role in what type of campaign UAlbany — which finished 14-18 last season — is able to produce.

“He’s one of the guys that I’m looking forward to evaluating these next couple weeks,” Brown said.

If Anderson is right for the 2020-21 season, that answers a lot of questions for the Great Danes.

Anderson, though, knows it’s a process to earn the leading role he covets after a season spent mostly on the sidelines.

“We take one day at a time,” Anderson said, “we get better and we go from there.”

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