She says the best times were spent alone, in Spring Garden’s gym, shooting baskets and honing her game to her favorite music.
Oh, and about her favorite music, it’s not what you might expect.
“Believe it or not, I’m really not a country fan,” she said. “People don’t really believe that with my accent, but I listen to a lot of classic rock. Then I like some new stuff and Metallica.
“People look at me really weird when I say I like Metallica.”
A classic Metallica tune holds that “Nothing Else Matters,” and that sums up Anderson’s alone time in the gym. One plus of her new-found life without organized basketball is she can still have that alone time in the gym.
She can still rock out through her rim shots, and now she can do it without the pressure of improving her game.
“When I get out of school and before Spring Garden lets out, I can see myself going there and playing pick-up or something,” she said. “But it doesn’t really matter if you do anything wrong.”
Hard to believe for folks used to reading or hearing Anderson’s name associated with hoops, she is retired. Her retirement became effective when the clock came up all zeroes for the last time in Samford’s NCAA Tournament loss to Duke a week ago.
It started when she was 8, in parks-and-recreation ball. It ended at 22, in the NCAA Tournament.
She piled up a lot of superlatives in between:
• At Spring Garden, she was Class 1A player of the year in 2006 and 2008. She helped the Panthers to state championships in 2004, 2005 and 2008 and was Final Four MVP in 2008.
• At Samford, she helped the Bulldogs to their first three postseason appearances, including NCAA Tournament appearances during her junior and senior years. On Samford’s all-time lists, she finished third in games played (126), fourth in 3-pointers made (149), fifth in 3-pointers attempted (379), seventh in free throws made (217), eighth in free throws attempted (261) and eighth in points (902).
• As a junior, she hit a 25-footer to clinch Samford’s first-ever NCAA berth, and she finished her career as an All-Southern Conference pick by coaches and media.
And now it’s over.
There’s no pro ball in Anderson’s future, home or abroad. That part hit home after the Duke game.
“I cried for a little while after that, in the locker room,” she said. “It’s sad to think it’s over, but at the same time, I don’t have any regrets. I feel like, through my entire career and my whole life, I’ve done everything I could to be the best player I could.
“In some ways, it exhausted me.”
Don’t expect so see Anderson coaching in a high school gym near you any time soon, either.
She’s been known to do some summer work with Spring Garden athletes in basketball and volleyball, and she’ll likely to that again, she said, but that’s it.
“As far as coaching, I think everybody thinks that, when you’re pretty good at something that you want to coach,” she said, “but I never really had a great aspiration to be involved in high school athletics or anything.”
So, what’s next?
She’ll finish her accounting degree. She plans to get her MBA at Jacksonville State, become a CPA and have a family.
Most likely, any involvement with basketball will fall within family life.
“I want to have kids and be like my dad, who was a very positive influence in my sports career,” she said. “He coached and helped us a whole lot at home all the time.
“I kind of look forward to being able to do that — have kids and coach them.”
Truth is, it’s probably hardest for those who have followed Anderson’s career to think of it as over. It’s not so hard for those who know her.
“She’s been playing it so long and been working at it for so long,” Samford coach Mike Morris said. “I think she’s gotten out of basketball as much as she could, and she’s satisfied, and she should be.”
Anderson got into basketball because a friend played, and she’s been playing, conditioning, practicing — whatever she could do to improve at the game — for 14 years.
She went through the difficult college adjustment, not being able to go home to family every night.
Then came the adjustment from being a long-time star for a small high school program. She had to working her way into a starring role for Samford, becoming a full-time starter as a junior.
Basketball paid her way to college, a fact adding to the pressure she put on herself to get better. Those offseason conditioning programs are no fun.
She did it. Her results show it, and her coach attests to the rest.
“She really improved, physically, and just became a really complete player,” Morris said. “She could always shoot that 3-point shot. She could always score, but she really developed.
“She’s one of the hardest-working basketball players I’ve ever been around.”
Anderson said she got out of basketball everything she put into it.
“It’s taught me a lot of discipline,” she said. “It’s taught me hard work and understanding what it takes to get things done. I’ve also been able to meet a lot of people.
“I would definitely say that it’s taught me a lot about dealing with things that you wouldn’t think, maybe, you’d be able to and just having to work your way through stuff when it seems hard.”
Her playing career ended with a six-point showing against Duke in Nashville, Tenn., on March 18.
Samford’s spring break immediately followed, and she spent the past week at home, near Spring Garden. Her family lives about a mile away from the high school and the gym where she cut her basketball teeth — not to mention a few nets.
The downtime in familiar haunts gave her time to think about her new life after her formal hoops career.
“I can definitely see myself in the gym at Spring Garden, just shooting and kind of looking back on stuff,” she said. “It’s a small place and a place where I learned to play, and I can see that it would be very relaxing.”
She might even take a look at pictures of those championship teams — but not a long look.
“There’s a few of them, and I’m not looking that great in them,” she said. “It is what it is.
“It’s nice to look up at the banners in there, as much as anything, and look back and know that I was a part of it, and that it will always be up there.”
Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.