South Charlotte

Scoring is natural for Ardrey Kell's shooting guard

Ardrey Kell girls' basketball coach Tina Lawrence calls senior guard Oceania Anderson the best three-point shooter in Mecklenburg County.

Ask Anderson how her shot got so good, and she struggles to find an answer.

"I really don't know when I started shooting or really when I got so good at shooting. It just all of the sudden, I don't know, everything started going in from beyond the arc," she said. "It just came naturally."

Anderson says she started playing basketball when she was 2 years old. Her mom, Shanaja Anderson, played basketball at High Point Central and her dad, Tony Duncan, was also an athlete.

"It's kind of genetic," said Anderson.

Whatever it is, Anderson (5-foot-6) is a key part of an Ardrey Kell team that has started 5-1 and is ranked No. 4 in the Observer Sweet 16 girls' basketball rankings. And after scoring six points at last week's loss to Porter Ridge, she became the second Ardrey Kell girls' basketball player to score 1,000 points.

Until this year, Anderson was the team's point guard in addition to being one of the top scorers. She averaged a team-high 17.5 points and 4.9 assists for the Knights last year but has moved to more of a shooting guard position this year with the addition of freshman point guard Jordan Muhammad.

"She's embraced the role," said Lawrence, in her third year coaching at Ardrey Kell. "Her numbers are down a little bit but her assists are up. We're happy with the role that she's kind of accepted to take on."

Anderson is still averaging 10.3 points and 5.2 assists. Anderson's other role is to help the team's freshmen, especially Muhammad. In addition to returning starters Anderson, senior forward Christelle Shembo and senior guard Katelyn White, the Knights have three talented freshmen, Muhammad, Raven Dean and Quiera Gilmore, and one sophomore, Marshae Bradbury, who either start or see substantial playing time.

"I'm not sure if I'm even going to play in college or not, or just go for academics, so my thing is to put myself aside and teach them because they have the potential to be great and they're going to carry this legacy," Anderson said.

This year, the Knights want to end their playoff struggles. Despite playing well in the regular season, Ardrey Kell has lost in the first round of the playoffs the last two years.

"We haven't proven anything," said Lawrence. "We know we're talented, we know we have the experience. ... The only thing that we can do is leave it on the floor every single day and prove it that way."

Anderson said the team has tried to forget about those losses and that this year's team is different. The players are intense in practice, they push each other and they're not tolerating laziness or anyone giving up, Lawrence said.

"Everyone is more focused," said Anderson.

With all the tough and intense practices, sometimes the team needs to loosen up and Anderson knows just how to make that happen.

"This kid's hysterical, so she keeps it light," said Lawrence. Like her basketball playing ability, Anderson isn't really sure where her sense of humor comes from.

"I don't really try to make everyone laugh, it just happens," she said. "I just like making other people laugh."

The Knights started the year 5-0 including a win over Sweet 16 No. 6 Hopewell before falling to Porter Ridge. In their third conference game of the season, the Knights will face No. 3 Myers Park Friday.

"We feel like we can match up with them," said Lawrence. "We know they're getting a lot of hype, and I've seen them play and they're a well-oiled machine and they're playing really well together. ... But we have some seniors that seem to be determined."

Anderson may be especially determined this year because it's likely the last year she'll play basketball. She's been contacted by some colleges to play basketball, but with a 4.2 weighted GPA, Anderson wants to go to school for academics.

She grew up a North Carolina fan and hopes to go there. If she misses the game, Anderson said she may try to walk on, but basketball is secondary to school.

"Right now I want to focus on my academics because my money in the future is going to be more important than my basketball because it stops bouncing eventually," she said.