Braeden Anderson has never been your typical everyday student-athlete.
After being named Mr. Canada Basketball back in high school, playing two seasons at Fresno State and suffering a neck injury in a car accident, the 6-foot, 9-inch forward transferred to Seton Hall last season. He was immediately eligible to play, and he would continue not only his basketball career, but also his academic career as a law student at the Seton Hall University School of Law.
Throughout last season, Anderson did not see a ton of playing time. Appearing in just 19 games, he averaged only 0.7 points and 1.4 rebounds per game, missing some time due to the academic workload he was facing.
After seeing little action last year, Anderson decided to call it a collegiate career. He will still be a heavily involved member of the team as a graduate assistant, staying active as a presence on the bench, in practice, and in the locker room. He just won’t be playing. Between it all however, Anderson said his experiences up to this point have been “unforgettable.”
“Last year was amazing and I’m incredibly grateful for it all,” he said. “I’m blessed and thankful to Seton Hall as a school and program for giving me these opportunities to this point because what I’m doing hasn’t been done before [balancing law school and collegiate basketball], and I’m lucky and fortunate because they did not have to bring me back. It was amazing to win the Big East and have success but it was hard to balance everything, and they all saw that.”
This season, Anderson looks to bring the same winning mentality to the program, but now will look to contribute to the squad without being on the court.
“I can bring more to the table since I played with the guys and hang out with them,” Anderson said. “I understand the player perspective because I was just there with them, and I help make the guys understand what Coach is trying to get across with a player view. There’s a lot going on over the course of one’s career, and I tell them what they need to learn and mentor them to not make the same mistakes. This team is hungry and we’re ready to unleash the dogs.”
The decision to be a graduate assistant coach was one that both Anderson and head coach Kevin Willard came to together, realizing the challenges both academically and athletically last year. Now, Willard already sees an improved person in Anderson.
“It’s tough to balance but of course him being successful in law school is where we want him focused at,” Willard said. “He’s great in the locker room and on the bench; he’s a smart and positive young man. This role gives him an opportunity to be around everyday without the pressure to play, so this gives him time to focus on the law school. He wasn’t going to be an NBA player but I know that he can be a really good lawyer and we just wanted to find a middle ground.”
Between all the hustle and bustle of Anderson’s daily life and new role with the team, he seems to be both happy and thankful for a new position where he can excel in more ways than one.
“Seton Hall really does look out for their student-athletes and does what is best for them even in a compromising situation, and this opportunity is really a gift from everyone and I’m looking forward to a great year,” Anderson said.
Matt Lamb can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @MattS_Lamb.