BY MIKE ECKERT
SUTTONS BAY — Dwaun Anderson is working hard.
In the classroom. On the basketball court. In the community.
The hard work has been paying off for the Suttons Bay junior, and people have taken notice.
Already considered one of the top basketball players in the state for the Class of 2011, Anderson led Suttons Bay on an historic run to the Class C state championship game and a 25-2 record. That run sparked interest from the schools that have already taken note of the 6-foot-4 guard/forward.
"Not from different colleges, but I got more attention from the colleges that were already interested in me," Anderson said. "I'm closer to getting offers."
Currently, Central Michigan, Oakland and Utah have offered him a Division 1 scholarship, but many others have expressed interest.
Including Michigan State.
On Monday, Spartans coach Tom Izzo and top assistant Mark Montgomery came to Suttons Bay to watch Anderson go through a workout. Izzo made a similar trip last fall.
"It's crazy," Anderson said. "Even last year, I never thought I'd get this kind of attention from them. They told me they wouldn't have come all that way just for nothing."
"This trip was more about them showing him that they're very serious about him," Norsemen coach Todd Hursey said. "Last fall, they came up because they heard about this kid and they wanted to check him out. This was about them showing him their interest, but they haven't offered yet."
When big-name coaches visit Suttons Bay, it hasn't gone unnoticed in the community.
"It's similar to the season," Hursey said. "There's a buzz around town. Who knows what's next. He's drawn some interest from some big programs, but the way things are going he maybe could jump into the national scene. It's exciting for his teammates, his coaches and his family. The whole community is just so proud of everything he's done."
Basketball isn't the only thing Anderson is being celebrated for these days.
Academically, Anderson has made improvements in the classroom and was on the Suttons Bay honor roll for the first semester this school year. And, he just received a 20 on the ACT this week, which surpasses the NCAA eligibility requirements.
"He has shown incredible maturation from freshman year until now," Hursey said. "That's not even basketball. He's grown as a player, but to watch him talk to media, to interact with adults. But most importantly, he's always been a smart kid, but now he understands the importance of getting the job done in the classroom. We're thrilled for him."
In the community, Anderson has been a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Grand Traverse for two years and was recently named the area's Youth of the Year.
With the honor, Anderson is in the running for the recognition on the state level, and must give a speech this weekend. When asked if it's more nerve-racking to give a speech or play at the Breslin Center in the Class C state finals, Anderson said it was an easy choice.
"The speech is definitely more nerve-racking because all eyes are on me," he said.
While things are going well for Anderson, he's looking to keep improving. For basketball, Anderson has joined the Michigan Mustangs for AAU games this spring and summer.
"I played with (Parallel) 45 last year, (founder) Steve Bell was great and I liked everyone on the team, but I wanted to play with a team I felt would make me better and I'd get more exposure on," Anderson said. "I had a big list of AAU teams that were following me, but I thought the Mustangs would be the best fit for me after I went to a practice."
With that added exposure, Anderson can show off improvements to his game. After working last year on his defense, he said this off-season his attention will be on the offensive side.
"I think I need to work on my shooting a lot more, and probably my ball handling," Anderson said. "I'm going to be handling the ball a lot when I get to college. (I've got to) get in the gym as much as possible and even do workouts with the ball, dribbling and stuff. And then just getting up as many shots as I can."
Anderson will continue to work on his game and wait to see what offers come in. Central Michigan was the first school to offer and Chippewas coach Ernie Zeigler may have helped his cause last week when his son Trey — a 6-foot-3 guard/forward — signed to play at CMU.
"It changes a lot," Anderson said. "Now they're definitely higher on my list. I'm just waiting to see who else offers. But that's definitely a possibility. (It would be fun) to have another guy who can pretty much do what I do."
Other schools that have shown interest include Purdue, Penn State, Dayton, Villanova, Michigan and Villanova, among others.
"Dwaun is excited about the possibility going to Michigan State, but Dayton came up yesterday and he's excited about the possibility of going to Dayton," Hursey said. "His other offers, Central Michigan, Oakland and Utah are great offers. He's in a great spot right now, but he's keeping things open right now because you never know how it will turn."