It has been quite some time since Boston College basketball has been relevant from a national perspective. But with Steve Donahue in his third year at the helm and Ryan Anderson looking like a budding superstar, the Eagles are on a mission to make sure fans — both in Boston and around the country — take notice.
Left with the unenviable task of building a program from a team with seven seniors and no incoming freshmen, Donahue got down to business with an eye toward the future. After an NIT appearance behind Reggie Jackson in 2010, the Eagles stumbled to a 9-22 record with a roster headlined by nine — yes, nine — freshmen and no seniors.
The fruit of Donahue’s labor is a competitive Eagles roster that is all his, with two freshmen leaping off the page immediately. The first was Patrick Heckmann, a guard from Mainz, Germany, who paced the team before injuries and illness cut his season short. The other was Anderson, a to -100 recruit from California, whose play landed him atop the freshman heap in most statistical categories and on the All-ACC freshman team.
Anderson is a popular pick in ACC circles to be the league’s breakout performer this season, and it isn’t hard to see why. An athletic forward, Anderson has a skill set that lends itself to playing on a team like BC, where he needs to do a little bit of everything. He took the first step down that road Saturday against Florida International, putting up a staggering 29-point, 17-rebound performance as the Eagles took their opener, 84-70.
Performances like that just don’t happen all the time. Regardless of the opponent, anytime someone submits a 29-17 game, especially at a program looking for something to believe in like BC, it is time for fans to take notice.
Whereas last season was baptism by fire for this young group of Eagles, this season will be a year where they do more of the burning. Armed with experience, chemistry and a coach who has grown with them, BC will be a team to watch and will likely steal a game or two that makes college basketball fans around the country wonder how they can check this team out. Anderson has Adam Morrison-esque potential to be this season’s under-the-radar player who takes the country by storm. He is just that good.
Anderson’s commitment to BC was a bit of a coup, as the former California Mr. Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year chose Chestnut Hill over West Coast powerhouses Arizona, Cal, Washington and San Diego State. Donahue’s selling point was likely that Anderson would be the team’s best player immediately and help elevate the program back to a national level. Through at least one game, Anderson looked poised to make good on both parts of that plan.
Donahue has also set himself up well for the future with his previous two recruiting classes — and one high-profile transfer. Despite losing last season’s second-leading scorer, Matt Humphries, to transfer, Donahue picked up former Notre Dame sharpshooter Alex Dragicevich (sitting out this season) to add to a freshman class of prep star Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon, both of whom played big minutes against FIU.
Though young, this Boston College team has an opportunity to do something that Eagles teams have always struggled to do: be relevant in the Boston sports world. If any fans were looking for a bandwagon to jump on, look no further than Steve Donahue, Ryan Anderson and Boston College basketball.