If you’re 6-foot-11 and 235 lbs, you don’t sneak into anything, not the movies, the water park or night club. People can see you coming down the street on Tuesday for a Wednesday lunch date.
But Larry Sanders insists that he can stealthily squeeze his gangly frame into a crowded class and then back out without detection. At least that’s what the former VCU Basketball star would have you believe.
“I just kind of snuck in and sat in the back, man,” Sanders said. “I don’t really try to cause too much commotion. The door is in the back of the class and everybody is looking the other way, so I just sneak in and sneak out before anybody sees me.”
Whether his classmates have spotted him or not, Sanders is back on campus at VCU this semester. This summer, NBA owners locked out the players as they seek a new collective bargaining agreement. The fight is expected to be a lengthy one. Just last night, NBA commissioner David Stern dangled the possible cancellation of the season. That means Sanders has some free time on his hands, time he plans to put to good use. Sanders said he has not seriously considered playing overseas during the lockout, not yet, anyway.
The Milwaukee Bucks power forward is taking two classes through VCU this semester – one online, one in the flesh – as he aims to finish his sociology degree. Sanders, who declared for the NBA Draft after his junior season at VCU in 2010, estimates he’ll need about a year and a half to complete his degree.
“What else would I do with my time but take classes,” Sanders joked. “I wanted to get my degree. I left school early. It’s still a goal of mine to finish school, and I thought that since I have this time now I could still work out here at VCU, which is what got me to the NBA, and take classes.”
The Fort Pierce, Fla. native admits that he’s not just doing it for himself. He wants to make his family proud as well.
“I know my mom would love to see me walk across that stage,” he said. It’s still a goal for my family. It would be big for us for me to graduate from college, from a big university.”
In the meantime, Sanders has been working out at VCU with a host of former and current Rams, including Oklahoma Thunder guard Eric Maynor, Brandon Rozzell and Ed Nixon, who recently signed a professional contract to play in Macedonia.
Sanders averaged 4.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 60 games for the Bucks in 2010-12, including 12 starts. Many people in the NBA predicted an extended development process for the athletically-gifted Sanders, and his rookie season was essentially in-step with those forecasts. Sanders didn’t play organized basketball until his sophomore year in high school, and his game can be pretty rough around the edges. Sanders said he knows his game has flaws, and he hopes to correct them.
“I’m happy with what I learned [during my rookie year],” but I would say my performance on the court, I wasn’t very happy with it because it wasn’t enough consistency for me, which is something I have to work on. “
Because teams and players can’t have any contact during the lockout, Sanders and the Bucks’ coaching staff met beforehand and put together tapes of workouts and a list of areas on which he can focus. That way, he hopes, when the work stoppage ends, he’ll be ready.
Until then, he’ll be just another college student – a 6-foot-11, 235 lb human shot-blocking machine college student. Sanders has always enjoyed the college life, and while he’d love to be pulling down rebounds and NBA paychecks, for now, he’s happy to be back on his old stomping grounds.
“It feels good. It feels like I never left,” he said. “There’s a buzz right now on campus that you can feel in the air. It’s exciting to be around that.”