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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, July 16, 2017 1:00 am

South Bend star's work draws attention

Purdue, Indiana, UConn have eye on Riley, AAU standout

Pete DiPrimio | For The Journal Gazette

Damezi Anderson embraces the opportunity. You bet he does. Major scholarship offers are rolling in, seemingly more each week, and the better he plays in this crucial evaluation period, the greater the opportunity.

Purdue has been recruiting the South Bend Riley standout for three years. Indiana is making a strong push under new coach Archie Miller. Then there are the offers from Michigan, Connecticut and DePaul.

More will come.

“I've been waiting on it,” Anderson said about the attention. “They're coming now, so it feels good.”

Anderson does not overwhelm with words. He speaks with action and this week that means he and his Chicago-based Mean Streets team are at the prestigious Peach Jam in Georgia. Shortly before that, he participated in Purdue's team camp – the Purdue Shootout – with his Riley squad.

While coaches are taking good looks at him, he is taking good looks at their programs. What does Anderson want in a school?

“Where I can fit in the best,” he said. “If the school will be there for me.”

This is what happens when you're 6-foot-7 and a sturdy 205 pounds, when you have 3-point range, a get-every-rebound-you-can mentality and a why-not do-it-all approach.

It's also what happens when you thrive in Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League play, as Anderson has done, as well as dominate high school competition, as Anderson also has done.

In his first 16 EYBL games this spring and summer, Anderson averaged 13.8 points and 4.6 rebounds and shot 46.2 percent.

In 65 high school games he has averaged 19.6 points and 8.1 rebounds. As a junior, it was 24 and 7.6 for a 19-3 team. As a freshman, it was 16.7 and 9.3.

As a Junior All-Star, Anderson had 24 points and five rebounds in the Juniors' exhibition win over the Indiana All-Stars last month in New Albany.

Anderson flirts with double-double potential, and while it's not quite at the level of ex-Boilermaker and Homestead standout Caleb Swanigan, it's more than enough to get Boilers coach Matt Painter's attention. Purdue was the first school to recruit Anderson after his freshman year, although New Mexico was the first to offer a scholarship.

“Purdue wanted to see how much better I would get over the years before they offered,” Anderson said. “Their message to me is I'm a good player, and I can be a special player.”

That means work, what's expected, and what's not, and Anderson tries to deliver with a mix of inside and outside skills.

“I had to work on that a lot,” he said. “I had to get better and be consistent with it every day.”

Anderson is a four-star prospect by recruiting services Rivals.com and Scout.com. He's ranked No. 82 in the Class of 2018 by Scout.com and No. 101 by Rivals.com.

Anderson's emergence produced a summer opportunity to leave Riley and go to LaLumiere School, a prep school in LaPorte. The temptation was strong given LaLumiere won the prep school national title last season, which means he'd face some of the nation's top talent on a regular basis. In the end, he stuck with his South Bend roots and work-hard approach.

“I need to keep working on my game so I can perform when I get to the next level.”