Basketball has taken Jermaine Anderson around the world and back again. From Eastern Commerce H.S. in Toronto to Fordham in the Bronx to top leagues in Europe to the Canada Senior Men’s National Team as a player, and now to the front office, where he has been tasked with building a team back home in Ontario as the recently-appointed general manager of the Hamilton Honey Badgers of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL).
His time at Fordham instrumental in his postgraduate career, Anderson (GSB ’06) is using all of that experience built at all those stops in his new role. He has also taken the Jesuit commitment to service to heart, founding the non-profit “Fifty For Free Youth Community Initiative” two years ago, an organization focused on building character, cultivating financial literacy and basketball skill development training for youth in marginalized communities.
A Fordham man of the highest order, Anderson was a part of teams that set a winning foundation in the mid-2000s, leading to some of the most success the program has enjoyed. A second-team All-Atlantic 10 selection during his senior season in 2005-06, Anderson became the 30th Fordham player to score more than 1,000 career points, finishing with 1,178. The 9-7 league mark that year was the first winning record for Fordham in A-10 play.
He took a few minutes recently to talk to Rebounders Club about his Fordham experience, what he has been up to in the past 15 years and some of the Fordham people who have been important in his life.
Rebounders Club: What was it like coming in from Canada and playing at Fordham?
Jermaine Anderson: It was exciting. It was tough in a way because at that time there was kind of a stigma—can they play basketball in Canada? They didn’t know Toronto, per se. Today, Toronto is an international city but back then I think a lot of people thought it was the North Pole, that we had igloos. But I was coming to New York, the hotbed of basketball, and especially for guards. I felt like I had to prove myself in a lot of ways.
RC: You attended Fordham at a transition time for the basketball program, maybe the low point, and it was your class that turned things around. How did it feel to be such a big part of that under Coach Whittenburg?
JA: It was amazing. I want to start by saying I’m so thankful to Coach [Bob] Hill for the opportunity, for believing in me and the scholarship to play and go to school at Fordham. But it was a difficult first year for me and the team, and when Coach [Dereck] Whittenburg came, he changed the culture. Things like study hall and an approach to excellence in everything was important. He was tough — practice at 6 a.m., I think it was made to weed out the weak, and the guys who wanted to be there and be a part of it survived and created a culture. Then when guys like Marcus Stout and Bryant Dunston came we had already established those standards.
I don’t think he liked me at first, but that changed when I showed that I was willing to work, that I could apply what he said to not just basketball but school too.
RC: What are some of your most memorable experiences at school, on and off the court?
JA: First, I’d say the brotherhood of teammates like Mike [Haynes] and Mark [Jarrell-Wright], who really took me under their wings when I first got to school. I came on campus with one bag, I didn’t have much, but I felt at home right away.
In basketball, I’d say the game against St. Joseph’s [Feb. 18, 2004]. Playing against the No. 1 team in the country and being on ESPN, I felt like we might have won, but I ended up with two teeth in the back of my mouth [from an inadvertent elbow to the face during the game]. I’ll never forget the experience. It was what Rose Hill could be like on a regular basis, with the place loud and packed and everyone behind us.
And, of course, graduation; my family was there to see it. I went from almost flunking out my freshman year to graduating, first in my family to do it.
I think about how intimate the campus is. It’s not like someplace like Michigan State, where you can go for four years and not meet some people. You interact with almost everyone at some point. I think of Fordham as family.
RC: Do you keep in touch with some of your teammates and who did you enjoy playing with the most?
JA: Yes! Marcus Stout and Bryant Dunston, in particular, I talk to a lot. We have a WhatsApp group for Fordham Basketball alums, there’s maybe 75 of us on there. Bryant got married in Greece and about 10 or 15 guys were there for that. If I’m going somewhere, like San Francisco or Los Angeles, I’ll put a note in the group chat and see who is around there.
RC: How did Fordham prepare you for your postgraduate work and eventual rise to GM of the Hamilton Honey Badgers?
JA: From an academic standpoint, Fordham is probably one of the best schools in the country. I was prepared to do everything after my college career. Just being in New York, interacting with people from many places, made my transition to playing overseas, getting my Masters, not tough at all because I was so prepared.
It’s really the people I met that made the difference, from the professors, to [Sports Information Director] Joe DiBari to Jill [Shapiro, Executive Secretary, Training Room] to the people in the cafeteria. All those relationships, the people are what make Fordham great for me, besides of course my teammates and coaches.
RC: It’s the best thing. To just think about this opportunity that [Hamilton Honey Badgers Team President] John Lashway has given me, to create a team, entrusting me with building a team, this is what I always wanted to get into after my playing career. Not so much coaching, but using my business acumen. It’s the perfect opportunity for me. I negotiated contracts along with my agent with teams while I was playing, now I’m negotiating with those guys on the front office side. It’s an up and coming league, and I’m happy to be a part of it.