SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- St. Anthony is here on a business trip, but star forward Kyle Anderson first had some fun of his own.
The UCLA-bound senior, widely regarded as one of the top five players in the nation, competed in the Skills Competition on Sunday evening at Blake Arena on the campus of Springfield College as part of the 2012 Spalding Hoophall Classic weekend.
Anderson, a 6-foot-8 forward who has helped the Friars to an 11-0 overall record and a 44-game winning streak heading into their much-anticipated contest with Miller Grove (Ga.) on Monday at 11 a.m., participated in the Half-court Hustle event before the 3-point shootout and dunk contest began.
"It's always fun playing in something like this," Anderson said after he and his partner, Johnnie Shuler of DeMatha Catholic (Md.), lost in the first round of the event to Sam Cassell Jr. of Notre Dame Prep (Mass.) and Oliver Hanlan of New Hampton Prep (N.H.).
Anderson said he didn't know Shuler, but introduced himself before the pair engaged in the timed teamwork gala. Each pair was called upon to convert more lay-ups, free throws and 3-point attempts before the 60-second clock expires.
Jaylen Adams of Mt. St. Joseph (Md.) and Devante Provost of Miller Grove won the finals.
Despite falling before a boisterous crowd at the fun competition, Anderson is ready to get to work.
Coach Bob Hurley, inducted into the Nasimith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in August of 2010, and his team arrived in Springfield, Mass. early Sunday afternoon after they had defeated St. Peter's Prep, 61-21, in the Dan Finn Classic the previous day.
Now, St. Anthony -- ranked No. 4 in the USA Today -- aims to impress against an out-of-state foe on a national stage.
"To be honest, we've got a game. This is business,” Hurley said. “We're up there, we'll let the clock tick. We'll be on the bus watching a video on Miller Grove. We'll be in the moment. We'll escape a little bit, but we'll be thinking about the game."
The Wolverines of Miller Grove have been listed as high as fourth this year by USA Today, but dropped out after absorbing a recent five-game losing streak against some of America’s finest – including No. 1 Oak Hill Academy (Va.) and No. 2 Simeon (Ill.). They have since bounced back with wins over Lakeside (Ga.) and St. Rita (Ill.).
"We're expected them to play hard," Anderson said. "I understand they played a game in Missouri the other night, so we'll try to play that to our advantage. We'll be ready."
Brian Fitzsimmons is the award-winning author of Celtic Pride: How Coach Kevin Boyle Took St. Patrick to the Top of High School Basketball. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @FitzWriter