Oklahoma State star James Anderson is jumping to the NBA.
Surrounded by Cowboys coach Travis Ford and teammates inside the O-Club atop Gallagher-Iba Arena, with students and administrators and uber fans like the “Hula Skirt Dude” in attendance, Anderson announced he was foregoing his senior season to enter the June NBA Draft.
“It was a very difficult decision for me to make,” Anderson said. “After discussing the pros and cons with my parents and coach Ford and my high school coach, I believe now’s the time to pursue my dream by playing in the NBA.”
Anderson opted to return to OSU a year ago for another run at the NCAA Tournament, a run he directed this season, leading the Big 12 in scoring on his way to being named the league’s Player of the Year.
Where his draft prospects were more uncertain in 2009, another season with the Cowboys saw his stock rise, with projections placing him on the fringe of the lottery and generally as a mid-first round pick.
“I believe now it’s time for me to test my basketball skills against the best players in the world,” Anderson said. “I have worked hard and improved my ability over the past three years.
“I believe that I am fully prepared, both athletically and emotionally, for the challenge of playing in the NBA.”
Anderson finishes his career at No. 4 on OSU’s career scoring chart, with 1,811 points in just three seasons. His 735 points over 33 games the second-most in a single season by a Cowboy.
He was named First Team All-American by Sporting News and Yahoo!Sports.com and Second Team All-American by FoxSports.com and the United States Basketball Writers Association.
Ford saluted Anderson’s mark on the program, not just as a player, but a person.
“A very special young man, who you don’t find every day,” Ford said. “Somebody who is easy to coach. Everybody sees him playing basketball on TV and sees what a great basketball player he is, but unless you’re around him every single day like we are, you don’t fully appreciate what type of young man he is.
“He’s an example of what we want all these guys to be. And they’ve heard it before, heard us using him as an example. He’s just a guy who does it the right way. That’s what I’m going to miss the most.”