Upset at being cut from the United States under-16 national team this past summer, BeeJay Anya decided he needed to get in better shape. A new workout regimen that included running a lap around a local shopping mall early each morning and a better diet have yielded results that would win nearly any weight-loss competition.
Anya, DeMatha’s 6-foot-9 junior center, lost 40 pounds in just four months. He is more agile and quicker on the basketball court and it showed Tuesday night as he scored a game-high 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked three shots as DeMatha beat Magruder, 75-58, in a rare nonleague game between traditional private and public school powers.
“It feels tremendous, I can run better and I can jump better,” said Anya, who was a force inside throughout. “I feel more comfortable in my body and my skills are showing more.”
Anya went to work in August after returning home from the national team tryout. With his father, Ben, and older sister Stephanie, a junior center on the American University women’s basketball team, he would run to Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg, then run around the mall and run home to lift weights.
At the dining table, Anya cut back a bit on junk food and instead ate more chicken and salad. The salads were not especially tasty — just plain lettuce without any vegetables or dressing.
“It was effective,” Anya said of the bland diet. “I can’t complain.”
The change was extraordinary. Anya, who has plenty of scholarship offers, is now down to 270 pounds and looks completely different.
DeMatha Coach Mike Jones said that during one open gym this past fall, a college assistant walked over to ask where Anya was as the team stretched.
“He was right in front of him,” Jones said with a smile. “It’s night and day.”
Anya had 12 points in the first half as the Stags (2-0) opened a 40-19 lead. Forward Jerami Grant, a Syracuse recruit, had 11 of his 13 points in the half, while guard James Robinson, a Pittsburgh recruit, had nine of his 11 in the second half to dispel any notion of the game getting close.
“They might not lose another game this year,” Jones said. “Actually, I’m going to root for that, so I can say we were the one to beat them.”