Those who worked with Ryan Anderson the most and know him best weren't surprised about the announcement from the NBA on Friday.
Anderson, 23, a fourth-year forward for the Orlando Magic who played at Oak Ridge High School and Cal, was named the league's Most Improved Player.
Anderson received 260 of a possible 605 points, including 33 first-place votes from a panel of 121 sports writers and broadcasters. Milwaukee's Ersan Ilyasova (159 points) finished second, and Minnesota's Nikola Pekovic (104) was third. Kings center DeMarcus Cousins finished 15th with 11 points.
A first-time starter this season, Anderson averaged 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds after averaging 8.6 points in his first three seasons. The 6-foot-10 forward led the NBA in three-pointers attempted (422) and made (166). The only other power forward in history to lead the league in three-pointers made was Rashard Lewis, also for Orlando, in 2008-09.
"Ryan never ceases to amaze me," said Oak Ridge basketball coach Steve Scott, whose star led the Trojans to a state championship in 2005 and was named The Bee's Player of the Decade in 2010. "He keeps getting better, working harder at every level.
"It's also his personality. He's very humble. He came by an Oak Ridge practice during this past Thanksgiving, and it was like he was still in high school. He was great with the kids. None of this has gone to his head. It's really refreshing to see this."
Guss Armstead has worked with Anderson since his sophomore season at Oak Ridge. Armstead and Anderson remain close, talking by phone or texting regularly, including earlier this week.
"Ryan had no clue this was coming," Armstead said. "He's still the same guy (with) the same work ethic, the same drive to be successful. I'm so proud and excited for him. You give the kid a platform, and he's taken charge of everything his entire career."
Anderson started 61 of 66 games during the shortened NBA season and helped steer the Magic into the postseason, despite the ongoing soap opera revolving around the trade status of center Dwight Howard.
"A year ago, if you would have said I would be the Most Improved Player, I'd probably laugh in your face," Anderson said at a news conference Friday in Orlando. "This year has just been a culmination of a lot of different things and a lot of different people helping me."
Anderson will become a restricted free agent this summer, meaning the Magic can match any contract offer. Team officials have indicated they would like to keep him.
Armstead said Anderson will return to Sacramento this summer to work on his game.
"He wants to get better, wants to be successful," Armstead said. "A lot of guys change when they get into the league. This kid never did. He's not fazed by any of this."
Said Anderson: "I really did put in the time. I saw that I could have an opportunity here, and I put in the hours."
NBA'S MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
The top 15 players in voting for the award, selected by a national panel of 121 sports writers and broadcasters:
Name Team 1st 2nd 3rd Pts.
Ryan Anderson Magic 33 27 14 260
Ersan Ilyasova Bucks 21 15 9 159
Nikola Pekovic Wolves 10 15 9 104
Greg Monroe Pistons 10 9 19 96
Andrew Bynum Lakers 13 8 7 96
Jeremy Lin Knicks 10 8 17 91
Goran Dragic Rockets 4 8 10 54
Avery Bradley Celtics 4 4 4 36
Danny Green Spurs 3 3 3 27
Jeff Teague Hawks 1 5 7 27
Serge Ibaka Thunder 2 2 0 16
Ty Lawson Nuggets 1 3 2 16
Paul George Pacers 2 1 0 13
Steve Novak Knicks 1 2 1 12
DeMarcus Cousins Kings 0 2 5 11