Two years later, Juan Anderson makes Marquette his home

In early May, Juan Anderson felt at home. And that’s, well, because he was.

Finals at Marquette were done. The basketball season had concluded March 30, over a month ago. And Anderson had finalized his release from Buzz Williams’ program on April 15.

There wasn’t anywhere else he would be.

They say home is where the heart is, and Anderson’s had been in Oakland, Calif., for the duration of this two-year career with the Golden Eagles.

“Going home once or twice a year was getting tough,” Anderson said during Marquette’s media day on Oct. 11. “I was getting homesick a little bit here and there.

“I’m real close with my family.”

Away from Milwaukee and back in his element, Anderson began to plan his next move. And he was in the right place to do it. It’s tough to be homesick from home.

“Once I got home, it brought me back and I was like, ‘Ugh, OK. I’m fine now.’ You know what I mean?” Anderson said.

With a clear mind, he talked with his mother, Patricia Toscano.

“There was some, ‘Should I? Should I not?’” Anderson said of second guessing his decision to leave Marquette. “We discussed the pros of the cons.”

He spent time with his siblings – older brother Avery, younger sister Ariana and younger brother Andrew.

“I missed (getting to see) them growing up,” Anderson said of Ariana and Andrew.

His former teammates kept in touch, too, especially Jamil Wilson and Derrick Wilson.

“I talk to them every single day,” Anderson said.

“When I first heard he was leaving, I was sad,” said Derrick Wilson, Anderson’s roommate freshman and sophomore year. “But at the same time I knew I’m still here, so I have to focus on what Marquette basketball is going to do for the next year and prepare ourselves for the next year. I couldn’t worry about all the other stuff off the court.

“I think that was the toughest thing: trying to deal with that and also support him.”

And support was all Derrick Wilson provided. He didn’t try to persuade him to come back.

“I respected his decision,” Derrick Wilson said. “I don’t think it’s my place to tell him what to do or what not to do. I don’t know what he feels. I don’t know what else he has (going on).”

“It was never anything real business like,” Anderson said of conversations he had with teammates at that time. “It was more on a personal level. Make sure I’m OK.”

While continuing to plan his next move, the forward even kept in touch with Williams, whom he consulted with in addition to Toscano.

Juan Anderson is back at Marquette with something to prove. (Photo by Ryan Messier)

Juan Anderson is back at Marquette with something to prove. (Photo by Ryan Messier)

“Talked about it from a personal aspect, a business aspect, educational aspect, and at the end of the day Marquette was the best decision,” Anderson said.

On May 20, Marquette announced Anderson would return to the program he had sought release from 49 days earlier.

“I think it was just an emotional decision I made,” Anderson said of his release request. “Missing them (my family members) so much. Getting a little homesick.”

Anderson admitted there was more to his initial decision than homesickness, but he declined to provide details.

“There were multiple other things that we won’t go into depth about. It was a combination of other things as well,” Anderson said.

After all the turmoil, Anderson was back.

“When I did decide to come back, Buzz was OK with it. My teammates were OK with it,” Anderson said. “I thought it was the best decision for myself. I’m happy with my decision now.”

He isn’t the only player team personnel would welcome back after a tumultuous offseason.

Jake Thomas wanted out, was granted his release on April 3 and then, like Anderson, sought refuge with Marquette 15 days later.

“No, we put that behind us,” Chris Otule said when asked if anything was different between teammates and Anderson or Thomas. “We understood that it was because they weren’t satisfied with the season they had. But we put all that behind us and are just ready for the upcoming season.”

“It was more like he never left,” Derrick Wilson said of Anderson’s treatment from teammates upon his return. “None of us are the type of guys that hold grudges. All of us are happy he’s come back. Basketball is a big reason why we’re here but I think off the court stuff and being friends, that bond – with the guys who were still here at the time – was stronger than the stuff on the court.”

Back on the court, Anderson’s role with this season’s Golden Eagles is unclear.

As a sophomore last season Anderson started 31 of 35 games while averaging 13 minutes, 2.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.

He played on the perimeter and in the paint and made a name for himself as a hustler who made the little plays disregarded in the stat sheet.

Now a junior, Anderson expects to play some forward and guard.

“Buzz told me I’ll be playing some 2 and 3 in the future,” Anderson said. “I’m not sure how soon. But he said he can definitely see that in my future.”

Otule said the future is now.

“I think we’ll see Juan more so on the perimeter,” Otule said. “Throughout the offseason and all the individual workouts and boot camp, he’s basically transitioned himself to be a perimeter player.”

Playing shooting guard or small forward will put him in competition with the likes of Jamil Wilson, Todd Mayo and JaJuan Johnson – whom Williams couldn’t say enough about on media day.

“You can’t really complain about playing time, that won’t help,” Anderson said. “You can’t complain about anything. Complaining won’t help. You just have to wait your turn.

“I can’t determine how much I will play. I don’t know how much I will play. So I’m not necessarily concerned with that.”

What Anderson is concerned with is being the best teammate possible.

“That’s all I can control and that’s all I will try to control,” Anderson said.

What’s also out of Anderson’s control, but will work in his favor and help combat homesickness, is Marquette’s schedule.

The Golden Eagles will make three west-coast trips before New Year’s eve, which includes games in Arizona, Nevada and California.

Anderson said at least his mother will attend all those games, which will be a nice change of pace even as Milwaukee grows on him.

“I actually feel more comfortable here than I did before. I don’t get homesick anymore. I think I’ve established that this is home for me now,” Anderson said. “I’ve accepted that.”

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