Sam Anyan closes a chapter

Four years ago, three men came to GW with hoop dreams. Saturday, on Senior Day vs. No. 5 Temple, each will play his final game at the Smith Center.

One, center Francisco de Miranda, has been an impact player at his position, particularly in his senior year, starting 15 games and averaging 6.6 points. His roommate, walk-on guard Mark Lund, has become something of a folk hero. The pre-med major has found a niche, appearing in 16 games as a backup for point guard Bernard Barrow.

Then there’s Sam Anyan. Another walk-on and scout team mainstay, Anyan has never quite gotten the notoriety that the People’s Champion has, but the forward from Baltimore has always kept his head up. To anyone who knows him, he always has a kind word, a compliment or a question. The finance major is as eager to learn as he is to teach.

Whereas Lund is known for his outspoken support from his spot on the bench, Anyan has given his more quietly. He is an adviser and a teacher for an inexperienced team busting with talent but desperate for the kind of wisdom someone like Anyan can provide.

Sam is a great team player, Coach Tom Penders said. Very mature. He’s highly respected by all his teammates. And it’s not just the team. The coaches, we all respect Sam and Mark.

I give them feedback, and they listen, and they appreciate that, Anyan said. In that way, I feel like I’ve made a contribution to the program.

Although Anyan and Lund could dominate any pickup game on Earth, they have rarely seen glory on the Division I level (although a nice Anyan baseline hook in the Duquesne game Jan. 8 does come to mind). But just giving his all has been enough for Anyan.

When you earn the respect of your teammates, of your coaching staff, you can’t be anything but satisfied, he said.

Anyan came to GW with a goal few thought he could accomplish. He wanted to play on the Division I level. It didn’t take him long.

In his first game, an exhibition against Court Authority, Coach Mike Jarvis put the freshman walk-on in for 20 minutes. He answered with 11 points, six rebounds and two assists. But more importantly, he played the end of regulation and all of overtime – securing the win with two key baskets. Along with last year’s Xavier game, it remains his favorite memory.

I proved something to myself, and I’ll always remember that, he said. My goal was to make the team, and I not only did that, I was the sixth man in that game.

Although like any player, Anyan would have liked to have played more, he leaves GW and college basketball satisfied.

It’s just a close to a wonderful experience, he said. It’s kind of a close to a wonderful chapter in my life. The school, the supporters have been extraordinary.

The biggest thing is just the friendships. People from different cultures coming together for one common goal, and that’s to win.

The articulate Anyan, Lund and de Miranda have all won respect for their intelligence, maturity, work ethic and attitude. Though basketball may not be in their future, few will doubt success isn’t.

Anyan has a standing job offer from Leeman Brothers, but he’s also interested in going to law school, a decision he’ll probably make in March.

All three of these guys, I’d be surprised if they’re not very, very successful in whatever they do, Penders said.

Penders said he won’t be starting the seniors Saturday. With Temple in town for a key game, no one can blame him – but he said he will get everyone in the game at some point. And although Anyan would love to play – even start – he doesn’t mind if he never sees the floor, as long as one thing happens. That one thing he’s worked so hard for behind the scenes for four years.

As long as we win.

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