Braeden Anderson will play in his first game for Fresno State on Wednesday, his first matchup a tough one against Nevada-Las Vegas. But it also is against opponents he is familiar with in Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch, all three playing last year at the Canadian national team training camp.
The 6-foot-9 forward, who came to Fresno State after failing to gain entrance to Kansas after the NCAA deemed him a partial academic qualifier, will drag some expectations onto the court with him.
But if he can pull some rebounds and add some physicality around the basket, the Bulldogs, who have been lacking both to this point, figure to be better for it.
“Having not played in two years, getting a chance to play, he’s going to be a guy that probably has a few nerves when he gets out there,” coach Rodney Terry said. “Braeden is a freshman. He’s a young player who right now is still a raw player, a player that is developing and has a chance to come in and play with a motor and give us some physicality both on the defensive end and the offensive end.
“We’re hoping that he can do that for us now. Like any young player he’s going to have to understand the importance of holding a block-out — you may have to have three block-outs on one possession. Guys at this level are not going to settle for one block-out, they’re going to keep coming, so you have to hit them again and hit them again. That’s going to be a big adjustment for him.
“It takes playing and getting experience to do that and that’s one thing that he lacks right now and he’s going to have to try to get a lot of it here pretty quick.”
Bennett, a 6-8 freshman, is leading the Rebels with 18.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Birch, a 6-9 transfer from Pitt, is averaging 8.2 points and 6.2 rebounds in 13 games and seven starts.