COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The NJCAA national office announced Wednesday the winner of the 2013 David Rowlands Award, presented annually to the nation's top male student-athlete. East Central Community College (Miss.) shortstop Tim Anderson earned the award after a remarkable season with the Warriors.
"It feels great to win this award," Anderson said. "To be recognized out of all of the junior college athletes in the country is a real honor."
"Anytime you have one of your athletes win a national award it's amazing because there's so many teams across the country that play junior college sports and it's such a large pool for them to be chosen from," said East Central CC head coach Neal Holliman. "We strive from the administration down to not only have quality players but quality individuals in all of our programs. This award is just another reiteration on what we're trying to achieve. We want to have a top-notch program that's not just about winning and losing, but that is successful all around."
Selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft in June, the Chicago White Sox made Anderson the seventh-highest drafted player to come straight from an NJCAA college. The Tuscaloosa, Ala., native is the highest drafted shortstop to come straight from a two-year college since Glen Franklin of Chipola (Fla.) was taken with the ninth overall pick in the 1978 draft.
"I was speechless. It was an exciting moment for me and my family to have my name called. It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing to do. My family and I got to tour New York City which was great. I didn't expect to be picked so high. My agent texted me saying 'Smile', right before the 17th pick so that's when I knew."
It didn't take the White Sox long to lock up their first round pick, signing Anderson to a minor league contract less than a week later - which included a $2.164 million signing bonus. The shortstop had originally signed a letter of intent with NCAA Division I program UAB before being drafted.
Anderson has already begun his professional baseball career, having played 19 games with the Kannapolis Intimidators in the South Atlantic League. The rookie is batting for a .320 average with six RBIs and seven stolen bases with the White Sox low-A affiliate.
"He's got the physical tools that it takes but more than anyone else that I've ever coached or played with, he has the mental makeup," Holliman said. "I think that is what separates a lot of people. Baseball is a game of failure and how you can deal with it. A lot of people have the physical tools, but can they make the mental and social adjustments? That is what he has more than anyone else I have ever been around and what will allow him to play in the Big Leagues."
Leading all of DII baseball with a .495 batting average in 2013, Anderson ranked 12th in DII with 18 doubles and hit 11 triples - third most in DII. The first team All-American recorded 10 home runs on the year, compiling an .879 slugging percentage - second highest in the DII ranks. Anderson drove in 45 RBIs during the season and ranked fourth in DII with 41 stolen bases. Closing out his career as a Warrior, Anderson spurred East Central on to a 32-21 record and the Mississippi Association of Community & Junior Colleges championship.
"He's just a guy that continually got better ever since he came into our program," Holliman said. "I wish we could take all the credit for it but he's just somebody who is a tremendous athlete that got better and better through reps and continuous work. This was an absolutely exceptional year for him and he also did a lot as a marked man while we were struggling as a team."
In 2012, Anderson enjoyed immediate success as a freshman at East Central. The infielder led the Warriors with a .360 batting average, 37 RBIs and was a perfect 30-for-30 stealing bases. Anderson's effort in his first season earned him All-Region 23 honors.
"When we signed him, I knew he would be a very good player," Holliman said. "I thought he would be drafted when we signed him, although I had no idea he would go in the first round. He was a very exceptional athlete and hit coming out of high school. Physically he has gotten a lot better with reps but he's always been an athlete that has been able to hit."
Anderson is quick to credit Holliman and the East Central staff for playing a major role in where he is today.
"I had a bunch of one-on-one time with Coach Holliman," Anderson said. "We worked every day hitting in the cages, fielding ground balls and talking about the things I need to work on. He helped me identify my weaknesses and has helped me improve a lot."
At Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa, Anderson played a role in the Patriots winning the Alabama 6A State Basketball Championship in 2011. Despite his tremendous talents, Anderson didn't begin playing high school baseball until his junior year.
"It was a good decision because I had knee injuries in high school as a basketball player," Anderson said. "I felt that baseball was my best sport and once I got to East Central, it was the only sport that I had to focus on."
Although Anderson didn't benefit from the years of specialized training that most professional baseball players enjoyed, he believes his time playing basketball has helped develop his baseball game.
"It helped me be more alert and able to see everything on the field," he said. "The game has actually slowed down a lot because basketball is so quick. It's helped me react faster on the baseball field."
With his exceptional abilities and a load of potential, Anderson has become one of the most talked about players to come out of the 2013 MLB Draft. Despite all the acclaim, Anderson has identified what areas of his game need improvement and is focusing on them.
"Right now, I'm working on my defense," Anderson said. "A lot of people say that I can't stay at shortstop so I want to prove them wrong and show that I can play there."
ABOUT THE NJCAA DAVID ROWLANDS AWARD
David Rowlands was an active member of the NJCAA from 1972- 1988. He was a regional director during that time and from 1975-1988 was the chair of the NJCAA baseball committee. Rowlands, a baseball coach at Truman College (Chicago, Ill.), served on the NJCAA gymnastics, golf, executive and eligibility committees. Rowlands was the perfect model of hard work, discipline, ethics and excellence in community college athletics. This award is given annually to the NJCAA Student-Athlete that best exhibits these traits.
ABOUT the NJCAA
The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) is the governing body of two-year college athletics, offering endless athletic and academic opportunities to college students. It is the second largest national intercollegiate athletic organization in the United States with over 500 member schools in 43 states. Each year over 50,000 student-athletes compete in one of 28 different sports and the organization sponsors 48 national championship events and nine football bowl games each year. For more visit www.njcaa.org.