Anderson keeps fun in fundamentals

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 6, 2005

When Jeffery Anderson walks on the court, he’s all business.

The Southside junior forward wears the type of serious game day scowl that won Russell Crowe the Oscar in “Gladiator.”

Between the lines, Jeffery’s mug is all concentration. The strategy, preparation and hard work are etched on his face.

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However, off the court, the warrior’s face is replaced by one of a mischievous prankster. If Anderson looks serious off the court, it’s probably because he’s planning his next practical joke.

“Jeffery has a sense of humor that worries me,” Southside coach Velton Robinson said. “He and Fontano (Watters) always have something going on with the team. They always have the team laughing.”

Robinson added that Anderson and Watters constantly rag each other about many different things, including their hairdos and clothes. Anderson especially takes a ribbing for the cartoon character-clad ties he wears when the team is on the road.

“They’ll talk about anything,” he said. “Jeffery wears these Bozo ties that he gets teased about all the time.”

Teammate Travis Shine has been the brunt of several of Anderson’s practical jokes. The most recent came just a few weeks ago, when

Anderson tied together the laces on Shine’s shoes, causing Shine to trip when he stood up and attempted to walk.

“He’s a fun player. He makes playing basketball fun,” Shine said. “Everyone thinks he’s goofy. He’s just having fun.”

Anderson’s hardcourt teammates aren’t the only ones who have dealt with his wild ways. Southside football coach Chris Raymond recalled several times when both Anderson and Waters waited for their gridiron colleagues to reach the locker room following practice.

That, Raymond said, is when Anderson and Watters would find the players’ cars with the keys left in the ignition. The two would drive the cars from the field house on the east side of the school to the front of the new gym on the west side.

Anderson also has been known to jokingly misplace teammates’ items from their lockers, take their game shoes on game day and coat his teammates’ heads with lotion.

“I’m having fun this year,” Anderson said. “This is the most fun I’ve had in two years.

“We used to just go through practice. Coach would tell us to run and we’d move slow,” Anderson added. “Now, when he tells us to walk to the baseline for practice, we run to the line.”

The main reason for Anderson’s jubilation may be the Panthers’ success. Southside has won its first 15 games and tops the state’s Class 4A poll. The 6-foot-3 Anderson has had plenty to do with that, posting the second-highest scoring average on a team filled with athletes that could potentially take over a game.

Anderson recently showed his versatility and athleticism in both football and basketball. After catching three passes for 89 yards in last month’s Alabama High School Athletic Association’s All-Star Football Game, Anderson returned that same night to score a team-high 28 points in a Panthers’ victory.

After two turmoil-filled seasons in which the Panthers bickered amongst themselves, Anderson said he had a feeling that this season would be different long before the first regular-season tip-off.

Anderson said the team came together in June, when the Panthers attended team camp in Brewton. During their three-day trip, the Panthers compiled a 13-1 record against other schools throughout the state.

When the team returned home, the atmosphere was a friendly one, Anderson said.

“We weren’t arguing with each other. Everyone was getting along,” he said. “When we when through camp, we knew we were going to have a good team. We were a lot closer than last year.

“We’re going to win the state championship this year,” Anderson added. “We’re not scared of any team. If they’re taller than we are, we’re probably smarter than most teams.”

The team’s unity not only has the Panthers thinking championship, but also a perfect season – and that’s no joke.