BY GREG MATTURA
PARAMUS – As the youngest child in the family, EJ Anosike has received seven times more than his share of advice from his brothers and sisters.
All that guidance has made the Paramus Catholic senior an A student with visions of a career in the medical field. It’s also made the 6-foot-7, 215-pounder the best all-around center in Bergen County.
“There’s kind of a benefit to being the youngest of eight children,” Anosike, 17, said Friday, “and most of them had a lot of experience playing basketball.”
Initially, it’s odd to hear the multitalented Anosike say he “models” his game after his sister. Then he explains that Nicky was a McDonald’s All-American in high school, won two national championships at Tennessee and was an All-Star in the WNBA.
“Every Saturday morning, she used to take me to the park when I was younger,” said Anosike, whose brother, O.D., plays professionally in Europe. “She would teach me how to shoot, dribble, all that.”
EJ Anosike has done all that while leading Paramus Catholic (9-4) to a six-game winning streak and likely top-eight seed for the Bergen Jamboree, which opens Saturday. The Bergen Jamboree Committee will select and seed the field Wednesday.
Anosike has the size of a center but the skills of a small forward. In addition to strong low-post moves necessary to be a quality center, the East Orange resident and Division I recruit also can handle the ball, pass, and has a solid mid-range jumper. He averages 17.3 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and three assists per game.
He shoots better than 70 percent from the foul line and his 77 free throws are tops in North Jersey, based on results reported to The Record.
“He’s a five-tool player,” said coach Mark Scott, in his first season at Paramus Catholic. “He can rebound, defend, score in the post, block shots, and he can distribute. Not a lot of players can do the things he’s doing and have the versatility that he has.”
Anosike is in his second season at Paramus Catholic. As a freshman, he lived in Staten Island, N.Y. and attended St. Peter’s, where Nicky became a McDonald’s All-American. He then moved to East Orange and as a sophomore attended Christ the King in Newark.
“I wanted to go somewhere better academically,” Anosike explained for his transfer from Christ the King to Paramus Catholic, where he carries a 3.5 grade-point average. “It was convenient for me to get here, good academics, and I kind of fell into the basketball part of it.”
Anosike is being recruited by colleges in the Ivy League and Patriot League, though he may first attend prep school. He would like to major in pharmacy, economics and/or finance. Two of his sisters are doctors, and his mother and another sister are nurses, so he is interested in learning about cutting-edge medications.
“The medical field has been in my family,” Anosike said, “so it’s kind of rubbed off on me, and that’s how I got interested in pharmacy.”
He enjoys having so many siblings as role models and appreciates their advice. He doesn’t feel any pressure to follow in their footsteps, though.
“There’s not really much pressure,” Anosike said. “They set the standard for my family, and they always told me to be my own person and don’t copy them. It kind of helps, because I end up being myself. It’s not like I’m living in their shadow. I don’t have that problem. They just tell me to be myself.”