It's hard to say that no one saw a 6-foot-11 girls basketball player coming, but that seems to be the case in Southern New Jersey, where the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Marvadene Anderson is using a considerable size advantage to dominate the girls hoops scene near Philadelphia.
"They were like 'wow,' because they had never seen a girl my height," Anderson told the Inquirer of her opponents following an 18-point outing last week. "They were all like, 'Oh my God,' but I was used to it, anyway. Even now, people I am acquainted with, they still stare like they've never seen somebody my height before."
The stares are well earned, if only because most people haven't seen a girl Anderson's size before. The 17-year-old Jamaica native moved to the U.S. last year to try and get enough attention to earn a college scholarship. As one might expect, that attention has come almost as quickly as the stares when Anderson's Rutgers (N.J.) Prep squad walks off its team bus for road games.
Anderson's move to America was made possible by Enid Angus, who tripped across a story on Anderson's notable height in a Jamaican newspaper less than two years ago. Angus, who lives in New Jersey, happens to be the vice president of overseas operations for the Jamaican Basketball Association, and she stepped forward to offer Anderson a place to stay if she wanted to try and take up basketball in the U.S.
The move was deemed a good one by Anderson's family and the Jamaican Assn., which realized she could become a vital asset for its national team with better development. Since her initial trip over, Anderson has had Angus as a guardian in New Jersey, filling some of the familial void left behind in her native Clarendon, Jamaica, where her mother and sister remain.
And while Anderson is only a year into her basketball career, there have been encouraging signs about her future potential, according to her high school coach.
"The one thing I think you'll notice is she has great hands, and that's something she's always had," Rutgers Prep coach Mary Klinger told the Inquirer. "And she doesn't have any bad habits, because what she's learned, she's learned fundamentally. If she continues to improve, then the sky's the limit for her.
"For her to be where she is and her size and her life experiences, she's going to be very successful. She handles things, and even with some of the comments, she's proud. She sticks those shoulders out and she's proud."
Her statistics may not be spectacular -- Anderson is averaging 11 points, nearly six rebounds and three blocks per game -- but they are impressively solid for a player who has had roughly 12 months on a court in her entire life, playing against some of the best female basketball competition available. Add in the influence she has on opposing defenses and offenses just by her physical presence, and it's understandable why Klinger is so excited about her progress. With nearly every school in the Big East already hot on her recruiting trail, college coaches seem to have seen enough potential to spark their interest as well.
No matter where she ends up, Anderson is just happy for the opportunity that Angus helped deliver to her.
"In Jamaica, you don't really find people your age, your height," Anderson told the Inquirer. "When I came here, I see people my height -- mostly guys -- but I don't feel lonely anymore. When I was in Jamaica, I never thought I'd find anything this useful with my height. I'm just grateful for the opportunity."
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