Jalen Anderson is a self-proclaimed gym rat.
The 6-foot-1 senior guard at Tandem Friends admits his happy place is in a gym getting up shots, whether in a pick-up game, practice or just working on his craft in shootarounds.
The time has been well spent.
Last week, he scored 12 of his game-high 21 points in the fourth quarter during a comeback victory over Covenant. That performance helped the Badgers maintain a perfect mark against fellow private schools from Central Virginia and earned Anderson Schewels Athlete of the Week honors.
“I’ve had some pretty big games under my belt [this season],” said Anderson, who has led the Badgers to victories over fellow Charlottesville schools Covenant, St. Anne’s-Belfield and Covenant this season. Tandem is 5-0 against those schools this season. “But to go [5-0] against a school rival is always great.”
Anderson said the motivation to want the ball in big moments came from his countless hours in the gym. He grew up playing organized basketball in AAU programs in Charlottesville, Richmond and North Carolina, which have helped him refine his game.
“I’ve had a basketball in my hands for as long as I can remember,” Anderson said. “I played a lot of football growing up as a kid, but I felt like I just really needed to pick one sport and just go all at it. What made me choose basketball is really, just being in the lifestyle and culture of it, building relationships with teammates, coaches and your community.”
He started his high school career at William Monroe. Anderson played two seasons for the Greene Dragons before deciding to transfer to Tandem Friends.
“They have both been great experiences with good ball clubs,” Anderson said. “Playing [at Monroe] really helped me grow as a basketball player. Transferring in [to Tandem], I was really looking for an opportunity to better my education in the most affordable way. Coming in, I knew I would be challenged academically, and I know I had to be a leader early. Building relationships with my classmates and staff family here have been incredible experiences. The love here is just different.”
As a junior, he averaged nearly 21 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 3.2 assists a game for a Tandem Friends team that finished with an 18-3 record. The production hasn’t dropped off this year. He’s averaged 19.5 points, 4.7 rebounds. 2.5 assists and 2.3 steals a game for a balanced Badgers team that was ranked 12th in the state in the VISAA Division III state poll.
“We have a downhill offense with guys who like to attack,” Anderson said. “We want the guys to be moving at all times to get other [players] open shots. I’m trying to put the ball in the hoop or find a rhythm for my teammates.”
Kobe Bryant is Anderson’s favorite player, although he admits his playing style is much different than that of the Black Mamba.
“I don’t really try to emulate my style after anyone,” he said. “My defense is most slept on. I want to go out and lock the best player down. Getting stronger [off the court] is something that is coming along.”
Anderson said his favorite place to be is in the gym. He loves to hang out with family and friends but admits he can’t wait for the next opportunity to step on the court.
The 6-foot-1 senior guard also mentors youth and spends the weekends refereeing games for local youth organizations.
Outside of basketball, Anderson admits that he has a passion for cooking.
Anderson hopes his production on the hardwood will lead to a potential opportunity at the college level. Although he’ yet to receive an official offer, there has been interest. The Tandem Friends product has been in contact with Kentucky State, a Division II program. He’s also had interest from Old Dominion Athletic Conference schools such as Ferrum, along with a few junior college programs.
“I’m still seeing what will come my way this spring,” Anderson said. “Coaches say I have a comfortable feel for the game and it’s hard to teach that.”
Tandem Friends enters this week with a 9-5 record, including a 3-5 mark in the Delaney Athletic Conference.
“It’s been an up-and-down season, but things are starting to come together,” Anderson said. “Once we find that dedication to putting the time in and executing, we will be fine.”
Victories over teams such as St. Anne’s-Belfield and Covenant are good building blocks.
“I expect us to win our tournament and make a potential state run,” Anderson said. “Making a state run and finding the right home for me as a student and a basketball player would be the dream season.”