Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Jake Anderson transferred to Iowa State from Northern Illinois in May of 2010. The Chicago, Ill., native redshirted his initial season as a Huskie (2006-07) and then went on to play three full seasons. The NCAA waived the transfer rule for Anderson, who is in his last year of eligibility, giving the redshirt senior one more season of Division I basketball.
"It's a blessed situation for myself and not too many people are able to go to a bigger school from an athletic standpoint," Anderson said. "I am thankful of everything and have nothing to complain about."
After receiving the waiver on Sept. 15 Anderson was elated and the Cyclones added a much-needed veteran player to an inexperienced lineup. Anderson is the prototypical veteran with leadership skills, physical toughness and a hunger for the ball.
"With any team you always need a veteran to understand how to go along through the college process," Anderson said. "I'm just trying to help the younger guys to understand how to compete at a high level and on a consistent basis."
Anderson has displayed his veteran qualities through leading by example and vocally on the court. Iowa State head basketball coach Fred Hoiberg, locally known as "The Mayor", said much of the Cyclones' success early on was due to Anderson's toughness and physical play.
"He brings leadership qualities that we really need and he does it in the right way," Hoiberg said. "He comes to work, he's always staying after getting extra shots. And when you have a guy like that the young guys see how his work pays off."
And The Mayor knows leadership.
"I've played with a lot of great players in my day, some are better leaders than others," Hoiberg said. "I played with Kevin Garnett who's the best leader by example that I've ever played with, and there's a reason he's as good as he is. Jake [Anderson] brings work ethic and a toughness that carries over to the young guys when your leaders have that type of work ethic."
Statistically, Anderson leads the way as well. The Cyclone guard averages a team-high 7.8 rebounds per game. Anderson's impressive rebounding numbers ranks him third in the Big 12 and amongst the Top 100 nationally. Anderson's season-high in rebounds this year was against Creighton when he ripped down 15 boards against the Bluejays.
For Anderson, rebounding is simply a matter of wanting it more than the player next to him. For Hoiberg, rebounding was an element he knew his team would need to improve on this season.
"We knew coming into this season that rebounding was going to be a weakness of ours and Jake came into my office and asked me what we needed, and I told him I needed him to go out and get rebounds," Hoiberg said. "I didn't think he'd end up third in the league in arguably the most physical conference in the country. He's a very tough kid."
Anderson's toughness is evident with a glance at his height on the roster. Anderson stands at just 6-foot-2-inches and is out-jumping and out-hustling most of the league in the rebounding category. When asked about his rebounding secret, Anderson grinned and said he couldn't give that away, but did share some tips on what he looks for.
"Understanding where the guys shoot from, how they shoot, where the ball bounces off the rim, the type of spin the ball takes when it comes off the rim, things like that help me," Anderson said. "But at the end of the day you just have to want it."
Not only is Anderson transitioning well into Iowa State's game plan, he is also transitioning into Big 12 play after three years competing in the Mid-American Conference.
"Day in day out, you're playing against NBA caliber guys [in the Big 12], skill wise and size wise," Anderson said. "In the MAC a lot of guys are undersized, but they still play hard. Here guys are just blessed athletically."
Playing in the Big 12 means competing against gifted players. Playing in Cardinal and Gold comes with Hilton Magic.
"Words can't define that," Anderson said. "Just playing in front of a crowd like that which is so enthusiastic about the game is very fun. Being able to pump our guys up throughout the whole process of the game has been great."