Most kids grow up with dreams of playing for their hometown team. For Juan Toscano-Anderson, he turned that dream into a reality. Toscano-Anderson appeared in five preseason games for the Golden State Warriors this past fall, inching that much closer to realizing his goal of obtaining a full-time NBA gig.
Such a path all began via an open tryout in Santa Cruz in the fall of 2018. But his journey, inspired by his local Bay Area roots, was set in motion long before that.
“My third grade teacher was Warriors’ legend Al Attles’ wife, Willhemina. She put me in Warriors (summer) camp. For me growing up in East Oakland next to Oracle Arena where the Warriors played, I’ve been a Warriors fan my whole life. It was very cool as a kid to be involved in an official team camp,” Toscano-Anderson said. “That jump-started everything. To have an opportunity to suit up for your hometown team in front of your family, that’s the whipped cream and the cherry on top of getting to play in the NBA. It’s something you never forget.”
Over time, he’s become somewhat of a local role model.
“It’s very humbling. I represent my city with pride. To think that I may be a role model is very cool. Talking in front of kids, you never know who you may inspire or who may remember you. It’s one thing to look up to Allen Iverson or LeBron James. Kobe Bryant was my guy,” he pointed out. “But as a local guy who came up, these kids probably relate to me more. I could motivate them to follow their dreams because if I can do it, why can’t they? I’m appreciative of the chance to show them.”
The kids aren’t the only ones who Toscano-Anderson is looking to prove himself to. The NBA G League Winter Showcase provides him with the platform to show every NBA team what he’s all about, and he’s risen to the occasion so far. He tallied 12 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals during Santa Cruz’s day two victory over the Raptors 905 on December 20. Although he’s been productive so far, Toscano-Anderson is still looking for improvement.
“I want to improve my offensive game. I’m a versatile player who can play multiple positions. I’m working on tightening up my game. The game is changing and everyone is shooting the long ball,” he said. “I want to show I can do that. I want to play at the next level and I feel like the more things you do and the more positions you play, the more opportunities you’ll have. I’m just trying to expand my palate.”
It’s worth noting that the 26-year-old is shooting 64% from deep in his last four games, well on his way to accomplishing this aforementioned goal. He’s averaging 12.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, and shooting 48% from the field on the year thus far. This local hero is making leaps to find success on a stage complete with the greatest deal of exposure, especially in Las Vegas.
“I think the resources that the NBA G League has are much more than what you receive abroad. The training staff, the exposure and so forth are things that I have taken advantage of and I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given by Santa Cruz. I’ve gotten the chance to get on the radars of some NBA front offices,” he explained. “The G League is right below the NBA. There’s a ton of talent here. You’re playing against guys who will go on to, or have played, in the NBA. There’s great talent here, some of the best in the world.”
All the while, the journey continues for Toscano-Anderson and there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic.
“Last year, I came into Santa Cruz via an open tryout. A lot transpires over the course of a year or so. I appreciate the team’s trust. They invited me to training camp and I played with the likes of Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. I was coached by some great basketball minds like Ron Adams and Jarron Collins,” he beamed. “My ultimate goal is to get into the NBA on a full-time contract. I enjoy playing [in Santa Cruz] because it’s close to home. This is a process and a journey where you can’t skip steps.”