SOMERSET, N.J. - Marvadene Anderson has received the same looks her entire life - stares and double takes whenever she takes the basketball court, just like when she used to walk the streets of her native Jamaica.
So when the 6-foot-11 high school junior plays Saturday at Philadelphia University and Sunday at Upper Dublin High, she expects the same reactions from her opponents that she had from her teammates when she enrolled at Rutgers Prep less than two years ago.
"They were like 'wow,' because they had never seen a girl my height," Anderson said after scoring 18 points in a 58-33 win over Franklin on Thursday. "They were all like, 'Oh my God,' but I was used to it, anyway. Even now, people I am acquainted with, they still stare like they've never seen somebody my height before."
Rutgers Prep is entered in both the Philly.com/Rally Scholastic Play by Play showcase at Philadelphia University and the Blue Star Tournament at Upper Dublin.
The Argonauts will face Archbishop Wood in Saturday's featured game, at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, they will play University High, from Newark, N.J., at 6 p.m.
In July 2009, Anderson left her family in Clarendon, Jamaica, to take up a sport she had never played before at the Somerset school.
Enid Angus orchestrated the move when she saw a story about Anderson in a Jamaican newspaper. Angus is vice president of overseas operations for the Jamaica Basketball Association, and now she is also Anderson's guardian. Anderson lives with Angus and her three children and two grandchildren.
Angus is one of many helping Anderson - whose parents are 6-foot-3 and sister is 6-foot-4 - begin a basketball career.
The bulk of the responsibility lies with head coach Mary Klinger, who is teaching Anderson a game she traveled to America to learn and turn into a college education.
Anderson estimated that her basketball career spans a year and two months, but after accounting for a broken tibia that sidelined her for most of last season, Klinger set it at less than a year.
College coaches, though, have taken notice.
The 17-year-old receives mail mostly from Big East schools, but also has received interest from Memphis, Florida, Florida State, and North Carolina State.
After a media-frenzied debut season, Anderson took a step back from the spotlight this year to focus on her education and basketball. She is averaging 11.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks in the Argonauts' first nine games.
"I'm doing some things that I didn't know I could do as a player this early," Anderson said. "I thought it would take a few years to start doing things in a game this well, but I've been working in practices and my extra time to get better."
Klinger was surprised Thursday, when Anderson tipped in a missed shot for the first time, rather than just grabbing a rebound. And although her pupil still struggles with establishing post position and with her stamina, the upside is undeniable.
"The one thing I think you'll notice is she has great hands, and that's something she's always had," Klinger said. "And she doesn't have any bad habits, because what she's learned, she's learned fundamentally. If she continues to improve, then the sky's the limit for her."
Anderson is interested in improving so that her journey to a new country is not for naught.
"In Jamaica, you don't really find people your age, your height," Anderson said. "When I came here, I see people my height - mostly guys - but I don't feel lonely anymore. When I was in Jamaica, I never thought I'd find anything this useful with my height. I'm just grateful for the opportunity."
And chances are most of her high school opponents never thought they would have to box out or defend against a 6-11 center, so they cannot help but stare.
Anderson, though, is used to that by now.
"For her to be where she is and her size and her life experiences, she's going to be very successful," Klinger said. "She handles things, and even with some of the comments, she's proud. She sticks those shoulders out and she's proud."