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Healthier and stronger, Anderson joins UAlbany men's basketball

Healthier and stronger, Anderson joins UAlbany men's basketball

Transfer has gained 40 pounds since diabetes diagnosis
Healthier and stronger, Anderson joins UAlbany men's basketball
Jojo Anderson committed last week to UAlbany.
Photographer: Photo courtesy Nevada Athletics

ALBANY — Like a lot of Division I men’s basketball players coming off sitting out a season, Jojo Anderson is confident he’s used his time away from game action to improve.

“I’m a little more athletic. A lot stronger. Things like that,” said Anderson, who verbally committed last week to head to the University at Albany after sitting out last season at Nevada. “It’s been a pretty unique experience, and I’m still learning things about it.”

The “it” Anderson is referring to is where his story goes quite a bit different from most players' coming off sitting out a season. In the last year, Anderson found out he has Type 1 diabetes after previously receiving a diagnosis that he had Type 2 diabetes. Now receiving the proper treatment for his ailment, Anderson used the last year to transform his 6-foot-3 frame.

“When I first got to Nevada, I weighed in the 150, 155 area,” Anderson said. “Right now, I weigh 192, 193 pounds. A lot of people don’t even know that about me.”

Anderson projects to add valuable guard depth for the Great Danes, and it’s expected that he will be immediately eligible to play for UAlbany after sitting out last season as a non-scholarship player at Nevada. Prior to that, Anderson played two seasons at Northern Arizona, where he averaged 11.1 points per game and shot 32.5% from 3-point territory during his sophomore season.

Anderson had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes during his time at Northern Arizona, but it became apparent during his sophomore year that something was off.

He felt sluggish.

Vomited often.

Couldn’t sleep adequately because he had to get up “like, seven, nine times” each night to go to the bathroom.

“So it was hard keeping a daily routine with those obstacles going on,” Anderson said. “Once I got to Nevada, I did my physical there, and they realized there was something wrong and they didn’t think I was Type 2. . . . When they put me on insulin, I started feeling a lot better.”

Anderson had hoped to become a scholarship player for Nevada after sitting out one year, but it had become unclear if that would happen for him even before the coach that recruited him — Eric Musselman — left to become the head coach at Arkansas and was replaced with Steve Alford. With the changes at Nevada, Anderson began the process of finding a new school, and UAlbany quickly jumped to the top of his list.

“The biggest thing with UAlbany was the connection with their players,” said Anderson, who is from Houston. “Obviously, the coaches recruited me and said their spiel about what role I could have, but it was really about the players. Ahmad Clark and Cameron Healy, they sat down with me and talked to me, one on one, and kept it real. They told me the pros and cons of the situation. . . . Those two guys had the biggest impact for me.”

What most impressed Anderson, he said, was that a pair of UAlbany’s current guards were willing to promote the program to another guard looking to earn minutes right away.

“That’s pretty unique, especially for a younger guy like Cameron. They were like, ‘We’ve got to win and we need more pieces,’” Anderson said. “That’s rare. They had a good maturity about them.”

UAlbany went 12-20 during a 2018-19 season that saw head coach Will Brown’s program end the season starting five freshmen. With Anderson joining the Great Danes, UAlbany appears to have one open scholarship remaining for next season.

Before last season, UAlbany had won at least 21 games in four consecutive seasons. Winning games at that level, Anderson said, is what he craves.

“It’s an environment I felt like I needed to be in,” Anderson said. “My biggest thing is I want to have an opportunity to win and have an impact on it.”

Reach Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.

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