November 29, 2006 - The first thing one notices while watching Trent Anderson on the basketball court isn't his lanky wingspan, precision passes that pierce traffic nor the uncanny ability to make aerobatic moves often reserved for a smaller player - all of which the Ironwood Ridge High School senior excels.
The asset that catches the eye - which in recent years has included many a NCAA Division I scout - is the 6-foot-7-inch wing's fluid and effortless stroke from anywhere on the court.
From the charity stripe the shot looks hurried but it's spot on every time. The same goes for 3-point shots, only with a little more arc and a lot more finesse. More often than not, the result is a resounding swish.
"I try to get 200 shots a day and focus on my form," said Anderson, who added those reps usually come either in the gym or in front of his house.
This season, Ironwood Ridge will rely heavily on Anderson and his fellow sharpshooters to ignite the Nighthawk offense in its quest to repeat as Sonoran Region champs.
With Josh Johnson running the point, Nighthawk head coach Karl Pieroway has a backcourt duo that rivals any in the state when it comes to shooting beyond the arc.
"We live and die by the three," said Anderson. "Unfortunately, we've been dying a little too much this season."
Ironwood Ridge (2-3) is off to a sluggish start, including back-to-back losses to Catalina Foothills and Sierra Vista Buena high schools in the 7UP Kalil Salpointe Tip-Off Classic held Nov. 20-25.
Anderson lit up Buena for a team-high 16 points, most of which came in Ironwood Ridge's ramped-up second half.
"We ran a lot of sets for him to try to get him open and did the same for Josh (Johnson)," said Pieroway. "We're trying to be balanced offensively; We'll get there."
It took Ironwood Ridge until the last month of the season last year to find its stride. When it did, the Nighthawks cruised through the Sonoran Region tournament and into the quarterfinals of the Class 4A Division 1 state playoffs before bowing out to eventual champs Glendale Apollo High School. This year, the squad returns five senior starters.
But as Anderson goes, so, too, may the Nighthawks. In an off-game, Anderson scored just five points as Catalina Foothills dealt Ironwood Ridge its first loss of the season, 60-53.
Remarkably, the first thing Pieroway thinks of when discussing his star wing isn't the smooth shooting.
"He's a great player for us. Defensively he gives us a different look, there's not many teams that can put a perimeter player on the floor his size," said the coach. "So we go zone and Trent is a big part of that. (He) rebounds the ball well, shoots the ball well and has a great looking shot for a kid his size, that's for sure."
It's taken Anderson years to hone his shot. Basketball is life for the one-sport athlete, who started playing in kindergarten and now often plays up to 11 months of the year between high school and club teams - the latest being the Reebok Elite Arizona Magic Blue where he was a teammate of the University of Arizona bound Jerryd Bayless and Zane Johnson, Arizona State freshman Christian Polk, Connecticut freshman Gavin Edwards and University of Washington commit Isaiah Thomas.
"I really don't have a life outside of basketball," laughs Anderson, who derives his athletic prowess from his parents. Mom, Carol, was a multi-sport collegiate standout in basketball and volleyball at a Northern Minnesota college while dad, Scott, spent some time on the PGA tour.
Last summer, Anderson was the only high school player invited to play in the Tucson Summer Pro League, a league built around past and present UA hoops stars.
As a result, several colleges have come calling, sending between 300 and 400 letters and reaching out almost daily to the senior. So far, he's narrowed his choices to Arizona State, Stanford, Washington State, Northeastern University, Portland State, Long Beach State, Montana and Northern Arizona.
"I'm looking for a program that's committed to me being there and somewhere I'm comfortable with the coaching staff and the system," Anderson said.
Offering Anderson a scholarship should be a no-brainer. The senior boasts a 4.2 GPA and is in the National Honor Society.
For Anderson, a decision on a school won't come until after the season. Until then, there's still a final chapter at Ironwood Ridge he needs to write - one that hopefully ends with a state title and Southern Arizona player-of-the-year honors.