USC point guard Ethan Anderson feels ready to lead – Press Enterprise
The USC men’s basketball team’s inability to practice over the summer was an issue for sophomore Ethan Anderson.
As a point guard, he needed time to develop chemistry with his teammates, especially considering only three Trojans were returning.
But Anderson found a workaround. Being a Carson native who went to Fairfax High, he had connections who could reveal open gyms for him and his teammates. Three or four local Trojans would come at a time and play pick-up hoops, where Anderson could feel everyone out.
“We would get five-on-five sometimes, get shots up or whatever,” Anderson said. “Team bonding, go out to eat or whatever just so we can get to know them.”
That’s the responsibility Anderson is putting on himself now as a sophomore. There are graduate transfer seniors on the roster, but no upperclassman who knows the system the way Anderson does.
Point guard is one of those positions, like quarterback in football or catcher in baseball, where leadership is expected of you, no matter your age. That wasn’t something Anderson fully understood until last season. He was primarily a shooting guard in high school, so beyond just the transition to the next level of basketball, he had to learn how to run the point in his first season.
And he found himself being looked to by seniors like Jonah Mathews and Nick Rakocevic to lead USC in key moments.
“That was something I wasn’t used to and was really new to me,” Anderson said. “It was a surreal feeling that they looked up to me in terms of what play are we running and stuff like that to be a leader, which was really kinda weird because I’m a freshman.”
Sometimes, a year makes all the difference. And teammates are noticing, too.
Fellow sophomore Isaiah Mobley spent much of the summer working out with Anderson. He observed the point guard work diligently on his shooting, an area in which Anderson struggled as a freshman, shooting 37.8% from the floor (62 of 164) and 3-point range (14 of 37).
And he noticed Anderson commit himself to conditioning so he can play more minutes, which is key given USC’s small roster this season.
“I think he’s learning more details, making sure plays go to guys’ strengths and the little stuff to become a full-on point guard for our team,” Mobley said. “He worked real hard and I think it will definitely show throughout the season.”
Anderson is pleased with the progression of the team, too. He raved about how quickly the team is building chemistry, saying it’s coming along at a faster clip than it did a year ago. And he’s impressed with how teammates are making extra passes to open players, something he didn’t observe at this point in training camp in 2019, either.
And as the straw stirring USC’s drink, Anderson is feeling a new level of confidence entering his second season.
“With this extra year under my belt, I feel like I’ve played for four more years or something like that,” Anderson said. “I feel like I’m a lot more experienced and being a leader is easier now because people have seen me be productive in college and now I can really lead.”