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Former NJCAA stars garner national spotlight in NBA Playoffs
 June 25, 2013

Two former NJCAA student-athletes were crowned World Champions with the Miami Heat last week. Heat centers Chris Anderson and Joel Anthony were two of seven players in the 2013 NBA Playoffs that began their road to stardom in the NJCAA.

Averaging 6.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game during the playoffs, Chris “Birdman” Anderson (right) was a spark plug for the Heat down the stretch. The Heat’s Game 7 win over the San Antonio Spurs gave the former Blinn (Texas) forward his first ring in his 13th NBA season. In 1997-98, Anderson averaged 10.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and led the NJCAA with 4.7 blocks per game in his only season with the Buccaneers.

Joining Anderson in the Heat’s victory was Joel Anthony out of Pensacola State (Fla.). Despite receiving limited playing time in the playoffs, Anthony posted six points, 21 rebounds and four blocks en route to his second NBA title – Anthony won his first championship with the Heat in 2011-12. Although the Montreal-native came to Pensacola State as a raw prospect, Anthony’s work ethic and dedication landed him an NCAA scholarship at UNLV where he was named Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2006-07.

Enjoying his coming-out party in the 2013 NBA Playoffs was Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (left) from Tyler JC (Texas). Playing all 48 minutes in the Bulls’ final seven games, Butler averaged 13.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists in the playoffs. The former Apache drew national recognition against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals by stifling LeBron James on the defensive end of the floor. Following one season at Tyler, Butler moved on to Marquette where he earned All-Big East Honorable Mention honors in 2009-10.

One of the biggest surprises of the 2013 NBA Playoffs was the performance of the Golden State Warriors. Former Vincennes (Ind.) forward Carl Landry recorded 11.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game for the Warriors during their run. Landry played two seasons with Vincennes, earning first team All-America honors in 2003-04 after averaging 19.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game for the Trailblazers. In the NCAA, Landry would earn first team All-Big Ten honors during his senior season at Purdue.

Making his presence felt once again in the playoffs was Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (right). Leading the Grizzlies in the playoffs with 2.0 steals per game, Allen continued to be the team’s defensive leader. Allen complimented his defensive play with 10.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. The Chicago-native began his collegiate basketball career in 2000-01 with Butler (Kan.) before transferring to Wabash Valley (Ill.) for the 2001-02 season. Allen went on to play at Oklahoma State where he was named Big 12 Conference Player of the Year in 2003-04.

Former Coffeyville (Kan.) forward Reggie Evans played a major role in the Nets first NBA Playoffs appearance in their new home in Brooklyn. During the playoffs, Evans averaged 4.6 points and a team-high 12.3 rebounds per game. Following two seasons with the Red Ravens, Evans moved on to Iowa where he was named an honorable mention All-American and Big Ten Tournament MVP in 2000-01.

The Atlanta Hawks saw former Cisco (Texas) forward Ivan Johnson post 6.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game during their playoff run. Johnson began his collegiate career with the Wranglers in 2002-03.

Photos courtesy of NBA Photos, the Chicago Bulls and Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images.

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