Justin Anderson was considered a top recruit coming out of the D.C. metro area starting in eighth grade, and was considered a top 50 prospect coming out of Montrose High School. With offers from Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Texas, it’s easy to assume he was bound for greatness immediately out of his high school, but in fact, it was his preparation and diligence on and off the court that made him able to have a successful professional basketball career.
In his episode of Mental Buckets titled “Luck Favors the Prepared Mind,” Anderson talks to Packie and Mike about the little things that helped him become named ACC Sixth Man of the Year at Virginia, and then eventually pushed him to become a top draft pick in the NBA. Last year, Anderson was superb in his play for the G-League’s Long Island Nets, prompting an average of 20.6 points and upwards of two assists and six rebounds per game. Again, these accolades wouldn’t come with Anderson’s immense attention to detail.
He credits his cousin, 11-year NFL veteran and two-time Pro Bowl selection, Jermon Bushrod, for helping to instill these healthy habits during a summer he spent with him in college. One aspect of this was mindfulness.
“We would sit down in the basement and he’d walk me through what visualization looks like, so I could see what I wanted when I went back to college, feeling that feeling of ACC championship,” Anderson said on Mental Buckets. “What did it look like? What did it take?”
For the first time, Anderson saw how important nutrition, agility, mental strength, pushing himself off the court, and adequately recovering off the court was to a potential pro career.
“These were all things I was fortunate to get as a 20-year-old trying to figure out what it takes to be a professional athlete,” Anderson said. “Just being around him as a pro, he’s coming from the same area I am, he’s from King George County, I’m from Montross, just seeing his dream and everything come to fruition, just seeing it and being around it everyday was just enough to give me the motivation that I can do it too.”
In Bushrod’s company, Anderson was able to put all his skills together and become the best player and person possible. There’s no question the development of this toolkit is responsible for Anderson’s sustained professional career in the basketball world.
Behind the creation of UPBYCF lies years of activism for both Turners and a sustained interest in bettering communities in The Bay Area. They know the statistics that six times as many low-income students drop youth sports when compared to those from high-income families because of access (Aspen Institute Project Play Initiative). They also know firsthand the power sports has to build character because “a survey of 400 female corporate executives found 94% played a sport and that 61% say sports contributed to their career success (EY Women Athletes Business Network/espnW, 2014). The launch of UPBYCF is bounded in these statistics and in past experiences both Turners have had with nonprofits such as The Boys and Girls Club, Big Homie Project, and Play MakeHers. Yearly clinics at UPB have focused on women’s empowerment, and tackled issues like access to sports, and hunger.