Center of attention
BeeJay Anya is proving during the Nike EYBL why he's the top-rated center in 2013
BeeJay Anya Interview
FRISCO, Texas -- There were moments during the Dallas Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) session two weeks ago when BeeJay Anya (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic) looked like the best center in the nation.
As the summer progresses, Anya's goal is to turn those moments into a permanent reality. The 6-foot-9, 275-pound standout has been a reliable weapon inside for Team Takeover as the squad continues its quest for a berth in the EYBL's ultimate prize, the Nike Peach Jam from July 18-21 in North Augusta, S.C.
Anya, playing in his third season with Team Takeover, has done his part in the squad's 9-5 record in EYBL play. As Team Takeover prepares for this weekend's Oakland, Calif., EYBL session, it is in the driver's seat for qualifying for the Peach Jam.
"I want to win at all costs. I hate losing, and I love winning," said Anya, who is averaging 8.3 points in EYBL play on a balanced Team Takeover squad. "I'm going to do whatever I can to help my team win, whether that's getting rebounds, block shots, score, whatever possible."
Ranked No. 15 overall and the top-ranked center in the ESPN 60, Anya averaged 7.8 points and 2.2 blocks during the Dallas session. He showed his dominance with a 14-point, 5-rebound and 3-block performance in limited play against the Tennessee Travelers. This is Anya's second EYBL season, and before he focuses on choosing a college, he wants to end his AAU career with a Peach Jam title.
Vocal leadership is one characteristic he brings to the team. According to Team Takeover coach Keith Stevens, a new level of confidence is becoming a second -- and welcomed -- characteristic.
"He's a guy we know everybody on the team will follow from a social and vocal standpoint," Stevens said. "He can go to any kid, and they'll respond to whatever he'll tell them.
"I think with him, he's more consistent with his game. He's starting to trust his jump hooks, which are really going to help him. He knows he's got to be a better post player, and he's doing all he can to be that. He's a kid with a lot of upside and potential, and he's going to get better."
At DeMatha Catholic, Anya was a key contributor for a team that finished 30-5 in his junior season. DeMatha capped its season by winning the Alhambra Catholic Invitational for the 21st time. All of the Stags' losses were against Fab 50 teams.
There are multiple highlight tapes available that show his ability to dominate inside. Defensively, he uses his 7-foot-4 wingspan to block shots and grab rebounds. Offensively, Anya's power is beneficial in finishing plays close to the rim.
Anya is balancing a host of offers, including Ohio State, Indiana, Kansas, Syracuse, UCLA and Georgetown, among others. He also has interest from North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky.
One offer that often comes up in conversation is Indiana. Kenny Johnson, a new assistant coach at Indiana since the beginning of the month, is the former vice president and assistant director of basketball operations of Team Takeover. Johnson also was the head coach of the program's 16-and-under group, and he has built a great relationship with Anya.
"I'm very interested in Indiana, just like I'm very interested in all the other schools that have offered me," Anya said. "I'm really happy for him. I know he's going to do great things at Indiana."
Whichever school picks up Anya will get a driven player, someone who isn't completely worried about rankings but is focused on being the best. He'll have the rest of the EYBL season to put an exclamation point on where he should be listed among the nation's elite.
"I think he's right there with everyone else," Stevens said. "It's a matter of him continuing to work on and hone his skills. Once he adds a couple more things to his arsenal, he'll be fine.
"I always tell him, you can't play for ranking. You've got to play for yourself. You play because you love the game. If he does that, he's going to be successful."
Anya said he wants to play for a program where he can grow physically and mentally. He admitted that a school with a recognized strength-and-conditioning program will be strongly considered. A place with a championship pedigree also will have an inside track.
Most importantly, Anya wants to play for a team that will help him fulfill his goal.
"I'm coming out to be the best big man in the country," he said. "I want to show that every game."