‘Mean’ streak on the court
takes Anderson to new heights
By Joe Simon
New Castle News
Shawn Anderson doesn’t consider himself a mean-spirited person.
Neither does his coach, Ralph Blundo. Blundo described the New Castle High junior as cordial, polite and someone who treats people with respect.
That’s just the problem. Well, sort of.
“Shawn is such a gentleman, and he’s a gentleman on the court in terms of sportsmanship,” Blundo said. “But, he has a competitive streak that only special players have. And he’s always had it, but he’s such a gentleman that we had to talk to him a little bit about, ‘Look, this (nice guy) is Shawn Anderson off the court. And there’s a certain approach you have to have on the court.’ And when he’s on the court, he’s mean — but in a good way.”
It’s not so good for the Red Hurricane’s opponents.
The dynamic play of Anderson, a 6-foot-3 forward, has been a key reason for New Castle’s perfect season. He was especially sharp last week, when he scored 15 in a win over George Junior Republic, 21 in a victory over West Allegheny and a career-high 35 in a comeback win against Beaver. The performance earned him Lawrence County Athlete of the Week honors, an award sponsored by Washington Centre Physical Therapy and selected by the New Castle News sports staff.
The new mentality is one Anderson is starting to embrace. The timid nature he once projected has been overtaken by a bold and aggressive attitude that’s added some ferocity to his already-impressive skills set.
“You get that feeling when you walk out on the floor, “Anderson said, “not that you want to be the best player on the floor, but in your mind, you think, ‘I know what I can do, and I’m going to try and do it. The question is, can you stop me?’ That’s become my philosophy. I don’t want to come off as cocky, but you have to have that kind of mentality to be good when it comes to putting up points and rebounding.”
Scoring and grabbing rebounds are nothing new for Anderson, who is averaging team highs in points (19.7), rebounds (7.7) and steals (2.8).
He was a force down low for New Castle last year, but he’s been playing a lot more like a guard this year. He’s still the team’s best rebounder and can defend other post players, but his perimeter game has vastly improved. He can shoot the 3-pointer, he can bring the ball up court if needed and he moves well without the ball.
He also grew two inches and added 20 pounds. He went from 6-1, 170 pounds to 6-3, 190, and he didn’t sacrifice any quickness. He spent hours in the gym working on his jump shot, ball-handling skills and footwork.
“He’s really versatile,” Blundo said. “We’ve worked hard at evolving his game. Obviously, for us to be good, he’s got to be a great interior player, but we’re also concerned with his future as a player at the next level. For Shawn to be the same player at the college level, he’s got to play well on the perimeter, too.”
College isn’t yet on Anderson’s mind. He’s ecstatic to be on a team that, despite being loaded with athleticism and an array of skilled players, remains unselfish and focused solely on winning. Blundo said Anderson is too generous and passes up easy shots to try and get a fellow teammate involved who might be having a down game.
Anderson said that’s just the mentality he and the ’Canes (9-0 WPIAL Section 2-AAA, 18-0 overall) possess.
“Even today in practice, coach Blundo got on me a few times because I had a chance where I could have taken a layup, and I passed it up,” Anderson said. “You get to a point where you want to see your teammates do well, and you want to give up an extra pass, like at Blackhawk and ’Tone (Antonio Rudolph) put a dude on a poster with a dunk. That’s something you want to see, and that’s something our team has always done. There’s not a selfish person on our team, and that’s a big part of our success.”
THE SHAWN ANDERSON FILE
TEAM: New Castle
KNOWN FOR: Anderson burst onto the scene last year as a sophomore, and he’s followed it up with a sensational junior season. The 6-foot-3 forward is averaging team highs in points (19.7), rebounds (7.7) and steals (2.8) for the unbeaten Red Hurricane.
PARENTS: Shawn Sr. and Angelique Anderson.
FAVORITE PRO PLAYER AND WHY: Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat. “His intensity and his will to win are something a lot of people don’t have. And I love to see someone take over a game with intensity and not be a jerk about it.”
FAVORITE TEAM AND WHY: Duke University. “If you watch the way Duke plays, they play hard no matter what. They could be going up against anyone, and they want to go as hard as they can for that play. I think it’s a credit to their coach.”
FUTURE PLANS: Anderson said he’s looked at several Ivy League schools, including Brown University. He wants to play basketball in college and study business management.