Cavalier Corner

April 2017

Cavalier Corner is the publication just for UVa sports fans!

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 23 of 31

BY DAVID DRIVER J USTIN ANDERSON SAID VIRGINIA head coach Tony Bennett helped pre- pare him for the NBA even before he set foot on Grounds in Charlottesville. "He is very honest. He and his staff never sugarcoated anything," said An- derson, the Montross, Md., native now with the Philadelphia 76ers in his second season in the NBA. "He said everything I would get I would earn. He said you are going to have to earn playing time." Once on Grounds, Anderson said Bennett and his staff assisted with his growth on the court as well. "He helped develop my game in shooting the ball the right way," Anderson noted. "He started to treat you more like a professional." The Cavaliers have reached lofty heights under Bennett since he arrived on April 1, 2009. Virginia has consistently been ranked in the top 20 and made the NCAA Tourna- ment in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. But another outcome of the Bennett era is the increased numbers of Hoos in the NBA. Four Virginia players have been drafted during Bennett's tenure in Charlottes- ville: forward Mike Scott (Atlanta, No. 43 overall, 2012), shooting guard Joe Harris (Cleveland, No. 33, 2014), small forward Anderson (Dallas, No. 21, 2015) and shoot- ing guard Malcolm Brogdon (Milwaukee, No. 36, 2016). Anderson became the first Cavalier to go in the first round since Cory Alexander in 1995. Brogdon averaged 10.2 points and 4.1 assists in his first 71 games this season, leading some media outlets to call him the steal of the NBA Draft. "My whole career, I've been an under- dog, I've been underestimated," Brogdon told earlier this season. "Therefore I've had a chip on my shoulder my entire career. "Being drafted in the second round when you think you're supposed to be in the first round, a lottery pick, the chip grows bigger. And you have more to prove." Anderson said he has enjoyed having meals with some of his former Virginia teammates before they met in NBA games. "They are friends first," Anderson said. "I'm always trying to seek more knowledge from some of the older guys." In addition, another former Bennett prod- uct, Mike Tobey, signed a 10-day contract Feb. 3 with the Charlotte Hornets after he had been in the D-League with the Greens- boro Swarm. Harris, now with Brooklyn, and Tobey met in Charlotte Feb. 7 when the Hornets played the Nets. Former players under Bennett have also al- ready moved on to the coaching ranks. Assane Sene is at his alma mater, South Kent School in Connecticut, while Jontel Evans is on the staff at the nearby Miller School. Sene played pro ball in Dubai, Sweden and Argentina be- fore an injury sent him back to the States. "Coach Bennett was a straight shooter," Sene said. "I learned a lot from that guy and it was not only about basketball. It was more like family." Several of Bennett's former Cavalier con- tributors are also doing well for themselves in pro leagues overseas. Darion Atkins, who ended his college ca- reer in 2015, has been playing this winter in Israel after playing in the NBA summer league in 2016 with Golden State. He was av- eraging 14.5 points per game as of March 28. Sylven Landesberg, who averaged 17.3 points per game in 2009-10 at Virginia, has also been playing this winter in Israel. Anthony Gill was a teammate last season with Brogdon on a Virginia team that ad- vanced to the Elite Eight. He has been playing as a rookie pro in Turkey this winter, averag- ing 14.1 points and a team-best 7.1 rebounds for Yeşilgiresun Belediye in his first 23 games in the Turkish Basketball Super League. "I currently live in a small town called Giresun, Turkey. The city is right on the Black Sea and has a population of about 100,000 even though it does not feel like that much," Gill noted. "Nobody speaks English in my city so that has definitely been a tran- sition. The club provides both house and car. Our apartment is a pretty good size and we have a great view of the black sea. In my free time, I spend time with my wife and we try to find new things to do and experience. "The league that I am playing in is the best league in Europe. Each game is a challenge be- cause of the level of talent. Each team usually has at least one or two former NBA players on their team," added Gill, who averaged 13.3 points and 6.1 boards last season for Virginia. The 6-8 Gill first went overseas for a basket- ball tournament in Paris when he was in high school. He transferred to Virginia after one season at the University of South Carolina. He is one of several players who benefitted from playing under Bennett in Charlottesville. "Coach Bennett runs a very professional program, treating each player like a man in- stead of boy which definitely helps me suc- ceed at the professional level," said Gill, a product of Charlotte Christian in North Caro- lina. "UVA prepared me by constantly chal- lenging me to put in extra work and not just get by with the bare minimum." Many top Division I players who turn pro have to decide between offers in the D-League and going overseas, which pays much more than the NBA's developmental system. In 2015, Justin Anderson became the first Cavalier to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft in two decades when he went No. 21 overall to Dal- las. (Earlier this season, the Mavericks traded him to Philadelphia.) PHOTO COURTESY CLEVELAND CAVALIERS GLOBAL GAME Cavalier Hoopsters Are Achieving Success In The NBA And Overseas 24 ◆ CAVALIER CORNER

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Cavalier Corner - April 2017