SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- There are so many things that make Kyle Anderson a typical 18-year-old high school basketball player: He’s an avid hip hop fan, he’s a social media junkie and he rocks Beats by Dre headphones prior to games.
The one thing that makes him a bit different is that he doesn’t pay attention to rankings of any kind.
“I’m telling you, man,” Anderson said, “I don’t look at that kind of stuff.”
It's obvious the St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) senior point guard knows that statement might raise a few eyebrows, so he adds a quick follow-up to reinforce his claim.
“I swear I don’t get in to all that stuff,” said Anderson, a UCLA signee who is ranked No. 5 in the ESPNU 100. “That’s for other people to decide. All we do is go out there and play as hard as we can. We stay focused on that.”
The Friars, ranked No. 4 in the POWERADE FAB 50, will need that focus today when they face No. 34 Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) at the Spalding Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass., at 11 a.m. ET on ESPNU.
“We look at the polls at the end of the year,” St. Anthony coach Bobby Hurley Sr. said. “Other than that, I don’t really put any thought into where we’re ranked and things like that. It doesn’t matter to me.”
That said, Hurley was “aware” that fresh off of an undefeated (33-0) season and a No. 1 final ranking in the 2010-11 FAB 50, his Friars began this season ranked No. 9. After some digging, Anthony fessed up to “not really understanding” how they were ranked so low after a perfect season.
“I didn’t really get it,” Anderson said. “But that’s what I mean, that’s why I don’t really keep up with those things because it’s someone’s opinion. I’m sure that there are some teams that are better than us, but eight teams? Do I agree with that? Nah.”
To be fair, St. Anthony lost Myles Mack, an ESPNHS first team All-American who averaged 15.2 points and 3.6 assists per game last season. Mack is now a freshman at Rutgers averaging 10.2 points and 2.1 assists per game for the Scarlet Knights.
Still, you get the sense that Anderson has drawn the conclusion that the eight-spot drop in the preseason was the voters’ way of saying that he alone wasn’t enough, even if he is putting up 17.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game for the Friars.
“Kyle is the most versatile player in the country,” said Miller Grove coach Sharman White. “He’s the guy and he’s been the guy. If we’re not able to slow him down or stop him from getting into a groove, then it’s going to be a long day. I’m not sure why St. Anthony was slighted in the rankings from the beginning, but I know that Kyle and Coach Hurley will only use that as motivation.”
White is exactly right. Anderson said he and the Friars have come to relish the role of the underdog.
“It’s a new situation for us, but we love it,” Anderson said. “A lot of people are overlooking us, and that’s fine. It’s like people don’t see us coming, but we’re definitely coming. We’re definitely coming.”
And everyone will have to pay attention to that.