WINDER — Brian Anderson’s treatment of this month isn’t unlike any previous season that the verteran head coach has implemented.
Only weeks removed from being tabbed as Vernon Denmark’s successor at Heritage, Anderson and his new crop of players were busy putting up shots and testing their skills against live competition at Winder-Barrow and Monroe Area this past week.
Having already played several games this month, including a trip to Georgia Tech to compete in a showcase, Anderson has had little trouble getting acclimated to his new surroundings.
“We can take a lot from this,” Anderson said of summer ball. “Right now, I’m learning who we are and who we’re not. I’m learning both of those at the same time and the guys are learning me, too.”
With summer ball, we’ve only had a handful of practices, so we just want to see the kids play hard and compete. This summer, I just want to see kids compete with what they’re presented with and in the same token, see what I can and can’t do heading into the winter.”
Anderson’s job has been made easier with the likes of James White and RJ Noord turning the heads of scouts this month. White, who spent the 2018-19 season playing on the junior varsity squad and Noord, a Greenforest transfer, who played middle school basketball in Conyers, have helped anchor a young crop of talent that has Anderson licking his chops.
White took an unofficial visit to Boston College on Thursday while Noord picked up interest from several colleges including Virginia Tech, Ole Miss, Xavier and Georgia State.
“With RJ and James, what impresses me the most about them is that they’re gym rats and they want to be in the gym shooting,” Anderson said.
“They share the ball with each other and you can tie that to chemistry, or just being brothers. They’ll share the ball when someone is open and they’ll also critic each other.”
With both players excelling at the guard positions, the bond the two share on the court is something Anderson expects to build on as the season inches closer.
“We’ve had some good practices where we divide them up against each other and they chirp and talk,” Anderson said. That’s only going to make us better in the winter. I like their dynamic and it goes deeper than basketball.”
Another positive takeaway Anderson pointed to thus far this summer is the willingness for all of his returning players to participate. With the likes of rising juniors Courtney McBride and Caleb Clements both members of the Heritage football team, it hasn’t stopped them from making it out to basketball practice when they can.
“I’m very appreciative and thankful that they’re all here,” Anderson said. “Even the guys who play football, they’re showing up after football workouts in the afternoons. I’ve been really impressed with the numbers. We had to make a summer cut, which hasn’t happened for me in awhile.”
On Tuesday, the Patriots took to the court against the likes of Jefferson, a Class AAA program and Gainesville, a fellow Class AAAAAA program. The Patriots started off their day with a gutsy 30-28 victory against the Dragons in which Noord led the team in scoring with 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting.
In the nightcap, the Patriots fell to the Red Elephants 57-51 despite a valiant effort down the stretch. Both Noord and White led the Patriots in the loss with 13 points apiece.
“I think we are right where I thought we would be,” Anderson said. “There is some sloppy play and room for improvement. We are where we are right now, but it’s not going to be where we’re at in the winter. I keep reminding them that.”
By the end of June, Anderson said he hopes his team has a grasp on most of the terminology that will be used for the upcoming season, one that will kick off next October with preseason play.
“I want them to walk away being familiar with it so that when October hits, it’s not going to be such a shock to the system,” Anderson said. “It’s good to get that out of the way now.”