Jim Saia finally is leaving Fresno and he is taking a big package with him.
"I think he's a steal for our level," Saia says of Clovis High's Korey Anderson, a 6-foot-7 1/2, 230-pound left-hander and Saia's only freshman recruit for the Cal State San Marcos basketball team.
Before he goes to CS San Marcos – an NAIA program going into its first season and with plans to be an NCAA Division-II member in two years – Anderson will play for favored City in the City/County All-Star basketball game at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Clovis North. It will be preceded by the City/County girls game at 5:30 p.m.
Saia had completed his third season at Fresno Pacific, where he went 70-29, when he was named coach at San Marcos 13 months ago.
Never miss a local story.
Only now, however, is Saia selling his Fresno home. That required a lot of commuting during the past year to San Marcos in north San Diego County, but it also gave him plenty of opportunity to scout.
As a late bloomer, Anderson was hardly on the college radar. But that changed when he averaged 18.5 points and 14 rebounds in the Tri-River Athletic Conference.
Throw in the fact the valedictorian had a 4.2 grade-point average in Advanced Placement classes and Saia's exhilaration is easily explained.
Saia, a former Fresno State assistant who has scheduled San Marcos to play the Bulldogs on Jan. 18 at the Save Mart Center, likens Anderson to his former NAIA All-American at Fresno Pacific, Todd Brown.
"Korey's the whole package," Saia says. "He's athletically sound, academically sound and spiritually sound. He's top-notch in every area."
How those qualities will equate as a freshman at San Marcos remain in question, considering he will be competing with largely veteran players who Saia has attracted as junior college and Division I transfers.
All that is known for certain is Anderson will remain a Cougar, the common mascot for San Marcos and Clovis.
"I don't expect to get much playing time my first year," says Anderson, who will turn 18 on July 20 and may have a growth spurt in him.
His father, Kirk, reached 6-8 in college. And Korey's older brother, Kyle, recently topped out at 6-10 at 20.
"I'll be the youngest person on the team by far," Anderson says. "I'll be playing with a bunch of 20-year-olds, and he [Saia] has two 6-11 guys."
Still, he is realizing a goal to play college ball and this gig brings with it the rare opportunity of helping launch a program.
"That's cool," he said. "I trust Jim Saia as a coach and that he will build a strong program."