PORTLAND – Antonio Anderson has nothing bad to say about his time in Germany. He just wanted to come home.
So Anderson, a 26-year-old guard from Lynn, Mass., left a nice basketball gig in Germany to return to the Maine Red Claws this week.
And the Claws, who play their second NBA Development League game of the season tonight in Erie, Pa., couldn’t be happier.
“Antonio Anderson has proven over the last two seasons that he is an NBA prospect and that he is one of the better players in our league,” said Jon Jennings, the Red Claws’ president and general manager. “To have a player of his caliber back is very important.
“Beyond his leadership qualities, he gives us a lot of versatility and defensive ability. And his ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket there are a lot of things that he opens up on our team because of his skills.”
Anderson played 24 games for Maine last year, averaging 9.3 points and 4.3 rebounds after being acquired in a trade from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. After the season he signed to play in Germany.
Life there was good but, he said, “different. It was my first experience being over there.”
The team treated him well but Anderson missed his 5-year-old son, Nathan, back in Lynn. So he kept in touch with the Red Claws, who held his D-League rights.
Now that he’s back, the 6-foot-6 Anderson knows what’s expected of him.
“Leadership, defense,” he said. “I can make plays off the dribble.”
He likes what he sees of the Red Claws, even with their season-opening loss in Springfield last Friday. Now he just has to get back into the game.
“I know the majority of the plays,” he said. “I’ve got to get used to them, just remembering them. It will take a couple of days.”
Anderson has had a standout career. He played college ball at Memphis, where he was part of four NCAA tournament teams, including the 2008 team that lost to Kansas in the championship game. He scored nine points with five rebounds that night.
He’s been to two NBA training camps, with Charlotte in 2009 and Houston in 2010. He’s signed two 10-day contracts with the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he got in one game, scoring two points.
Anderson is looking forward to working with the younger players. His message will be simple: Just play your game and don’t try to do too much.
“My first year with Rio Grande, we had six, seven call-ups,” he said. “Why? We were winning. We also had six guys averaging about 15 points a game. It doesn’t take scoring a lot of points.
“People want winners. That’s what it takes.”
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: