Former Virginia basketball star Justin Anderson recently competed in his fifth season of professional basketball. Anderson earned All-America honors after averaging 12.2 points and shooting 45.2 percent from 3-point range as Virginia won 30 games in 2014-15. He helped the Cavaliers to 83 wins, two NCAA Tournament appearances, two ACC regular-season titles and one ACC Tournament championship during his three seasons at UVA from 2013-15. Hoos Life caught up with UVA fan favorite Anderson, who is a former first-round draft pick of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, to talk about the impact of COVID-19, Virginia basketball, his recent NBA/G League season and what’s keeping him busy during the pandemic.
Q: Where were you and what was your reaction when you learned the NBA and G League seasons were suspended after Utah’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19?
Anderson: My team (Long Island Nets) was in Chicago preparing to play the Windy City Bulls when we got the news that Gobert had tested positive for the coronavirus. Our reaction immediately shifted to if we would be able to play our game the next night. Later that evening we were informed that all NBA G League games would be postponed and our organization immediately booked our flights back to Long Island the following morning.
Q: Where are you staying and what are you doing to stay ready once we get through this difficult time?
Anderson: I decided to stay isolated in Virginia at my college roommate’s lake house. I figured this shutdown would last some time, so we set up an old-school grungy garage gym, bought a hoop from Walmart, PlayStation4, Netlfix and a couple fishing rods to pass the time.
Q: You had quite a basketball journey in 2019-20. You worked your way back to the NBA with the Brooklyn Nets after playing great and in the G League. Describe that journey and what are your future goals in basketball?
Anderson: Quite the journey to say the least, a lot of experiences that I wasn’t necessarily expecting, but ones that I was prepared for giving the work I put in last summer. With switching G League teams and receiving a call up to the Brooklyn Nets, I learned about myself throughout the journey and took advantage of every opportunity I received. Perseverance was KEY! Hopefully, these unique experiences allowed me to grow and are grooming me to be back at the highest level of professional basketball in the NBA.
Q: You were in attendance at U.S. Bank Stadium for Virginia’s first NCAA men’s basketball championship. How thrilled were you to be there and share the moment with former teammates, alums and the 2019 national champions?
Anderson: A dream come true in Minneapolis! Words couldn’t describe the feeling of being in the stadium to support our team in pursuit of doing something that the Coach Bennett era deserves, a National Championship. THEY DID THAT! A memory that will never be erased.
Q: What are your fondest memories of playing at Virginia and playing for Coach Bennett?
Anderson: The best memories of playing at Virginia are the bonds that were aligned between each of my teammates and coaching staff. Coach Bennett did such a great job of making it about family and way of life just as much as he emphasized playing good sound hoops!
Q: What else are you doing during #SocialDistancing?
Anderson: I’ve tried playing the piano quite a bit through an iTunes app with the hopes of playing a song for my future wife on our wedding day. I HAVE BEEN AWFUL! However, we have a lot of time in quarantine to keep practicing.
Q: You were a fan favorite during your playing days at UVA. Do you have a message you’d like to share with them during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Anderson: Right now, we ALL have an opportunity to be heroic and SAVE Lives by staying home and spending time with ourselves and loved ones. TOGETHER we can help continue to slow down the spread of this virus!