The 2011 recruiting class was highlighted by McDonald's All American Branden Dawson, and included future backcourt mates in Dawson's AAU teammate Travis Trice, and as described by coach Izzo, the next Steve Smith in wing Brandan Kearney. However, that class also included one more very highly rated backcourt recruit, 2011 Michigan Mr. Basketball winner Dwaun Anderson.
Unfortunately, Dwaun experienced a personal tragedy shortly after committing to Michigan State. As detailed in this great story on him by Staten Island Live, Dwaun's mother was terminally ill by the time he committed to MSU in 2010, and passed away shortly before his high school graduation in May, 2011.
In the months that followed, Dwaun decided to honor his commitment to MSU and enrolled in summer 2011 to start classes. He did this even though Coach Izzo generously told him to take all the time he needs, and his scholarship would be waiting for him at MSU if he chose to postpone the start of his freshman season.
However, as the beginning of the traditional 2011 academic year was imminent, Anderson chose to withdraw from MSU and delay the start of his collegiate career. He left the door open for a return to MSU, but also declared that he was looking at other schools. Once again, Coach Izzo was generous and understanding, and granted him an unconditional release from his LOI, freeing him to speak with any schools. For reasons known to him, Anderson chose to go pretty much off the radar, and enrolled at tiny Wagner College in the Grymes Hill neighborhood of Staten Island, NY. How small is Wagner? Look at this list of notable alumni, and see how many names you recognize - I only recognized Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen.
Anderson looked at Wagner on the advice of his AAU teammate & close friend, Eric Fanning, who had committed to the Seahawks for the 2012-13 season. Going into last season, Wagner was coached by Dan Hurley, older brother of former Duke & NBA guard (and Wagner assistant) Bobby Hurley. The Hurleys helped Dwaun feel at home enough to make the unexpected commitment to Wagner, and though they left going into this season to take the HC & assistant positions at Rhode Island, Anderson honored his commitment to the Seahawks. Coincidentally, Wagner is in the Northeast Conference (NEC), which was won last season by LIU-Brooklyn - the team MSU beat in the first round behind Draymond's triple-double.
There was concern that Anderson wouldn't be able to play until January, 2013, because he did take classes at MSU & practice with the team, but the NCAA logically decided this summer that he is OK to play this full season. In his first season of college ball, Anderson is having trouble getting comfortable on the floor - he's only shooting 10% from 3 despite taking the second most triples on the team, and it sounds like he's settling for jumpers instead of attacking the basket, as he's taken more threes than twos (20 to 17), and has only 4 FT attempts in 7 games. He started the first 6 games of the season, but came off the bench in their last game vs. Hofstra. He has a very bad 1-3 A/TO ratio right now, but is averaging close to 1 steal per game.
And there is potential for him. Despite playing at a tiny school in a remote corner of northern lower Michigan, he was a three time all state player, and of course was rated the top player in the state his senior season. He was known in high school for having not just a sweet stroke, but also sick athleticism - this dunk by him at Wagner's midnight madness got him on SportsCenter's Top 10 plays of the day. And there are expectations - he is considered "easily" the top newcomer to the NEC this season, and I've read multiple articles calling him the highest rated recruit in school history.
Here's to wishing Dwaun the best in his athletic & academic careers at Wagner and beyond. Who knows, maybe MSU & Wagner will meet up in the Big Dance!