Ryan Anderson anticipated a career in basketball. Maybe play overseas. Perhaps coach.
But this? The brink of stardom in the NBA? Too good. Someone pinch the man.
"It's been amazing," the New Orleans Hornets forward out of Oak Ridge High School said this week.
Anderson grew up in El Dorado Hills admiring the skill of the Kings, Peja Stojakovic in particular. Anderson was never short of height or work ethic. He worked hard on his game, his high school coaches recall. Ballhandling, post moves, shooting. At 6-foot-10, Anderson could power inside or fire away over people from just about anywhere.
As a junior, Anderson averaged 17.4 points per game and led the Trojans to an upset of powerhouse Mater Dei of Santa Ana in the 2005 CIF State Division II final at Arco Arena, and has adored the old place ever since.
As a senior, he averaged 28.9 points. Anderson scored 50 in a playoff win over Turlock.
In that game, Colin Kaepernick scored 31 points for Turlock, prompting Nevada football coaches to offer him a scholarship with the thought of, "maybe he'll pan out at quarterback."
Anderson led the Pacific-10 Conference in scoring while at Cal, became a first-round pick of the New Jersey Nets, and then played for Orlando. He flirted with the idea of joining the Kings last summer and was finally dealt to New Orleans.
A year after leading the NBA in made three-pointers and winning Most Improved Player, Anderson is averaging 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds. Paired with No. 1 pick Anthony Davis, the forwards give the soon-to-be renamed Pelicans reason for hope.
"Ryan's such a bright kid, so hard working, and he'll get better and better," Kings director of player personnel Jerry Reynolds said. "He'll have a terrific career."
Local NBA lore
Anderson isn't the quickest, nor does he have the best hops of the area players to reach the NBA over the decades. But he is the best shooter.
Other locals who played three or more pro seasons:
Jim Eakins, Encina The state Player of the Year in 1964, the 6-11 Eakins went to BYU and played eight seasons in the ABA (two championships) and two in the NBA.
Darnell Hillman, Johnson A Bee All-Metro pick in 1967, Hillman played at San Jose State. He was a first-round pick of the Warriors in 1971, but signed with Indiana of the ABA. He played nine pro seasons, including three in the NBA. In a 1997 ABA reunion he was awarded the "Biggest ABA Afro" honor.
Bill Cartwright, Elk Grove The 1975 state Player of the Year, he averaged nearly 40 points as a 7-foot senior.
Philadelphia 76ers executive Pat Williams considered drafting Cartwright out of high school. But when Cartwright made it clear he would attend USF, the 76ers drafted Florida prep star Darryl Dawkins.
Cartwright won three NBA championships with the Bulls.
Kevin Johnson, Sacramento The state's leading scorer as a 6-1 guard in 1983, Johnson dazzled at Cal and carved out an All-Star career in Phoenix. He now rallies investment-whales as the Sacramento Mayor in an effort to keep the Kings.
Michael Stewart, Kennedy A defensive force and an All-Metro selection in 1993, Stewart was best known as "Yogi" for his childhood affection for Yogi Bear. After he set shot-blocking records at Cal, Stewart led the 1997-98 Kings in blocked shots and played eight NBA seasons.
Matt Barnes, Del Campo An all-state guard in 1998 after a four-year starting varsity career, Barnes is in his 10th NBA season, now with the Clippers. A scorer in high school, he's been a feisty defender since his UCLA days.
Joe Davidson joins Mike Finnerty on the SureWest Sports Radio Show on ESPN1320 today from 9-10 a.m. (linked later to ESPN1320.net)