SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Stephen Curry is likely returning to the Warriors lineup at the end of the week which could save the Warriors from the worst record in the league. Regardless, the season has been a wash for most fans and media types – just don’t tell that to Juan Toscano-Anderson who is soaking it up.
“Life comes full circle,” he said. “It’s crazy to be part of this organization now.”
He’s well-traveled in basketball circles, and at the age of 26 he’s back on his home court.
“I was crying on the inside tears of joy because I achieved my childhood dream,” he said.
On February 7th, Toscano-Anderson received a full-fledged NBA contract to play for the team he grew up rooting for, across the bay from the city he was raised in.
Toscano-Anderson was raised on 95th Avenue in a place purchased by his grandfather Macario Toscano. The house sits about 3 miles from the Oakland Arena, and his jersey number 95 is a nod to the family home.
No Warrior has ever worn a higher number.
“I used to come to all the Warriors games on Halloween night when the tickets were $5 with a free hot dog,” he said fondly of the “Great Time Out” era in the early 2000s.
He wore cornrows in his hair just like Larry Hughes, who was his favorite Warriors player.
Toscano-Anderson ditched the cornrows by time he got to the Castro Valley High School basketball team. He was a win away from reaching the state title game in 2011 and was regarded as one of the best players in the area under head coach Nick Jones.
“Every young kid wants to go to the NBA,” Jones said. “For him, it’s come true.”
None of the success on the basketball floor would have happened if Toscano-Anderson stuck with soccer. If it wasn’t for Wilhelmina Attles, the wife of Warriors hall of famer Al Attles, Toscano-Anderson might still be dribbling with his feet instead of his hands.
“She was my third grade teacher,” he remembered. “She introduced me to basketball, and enrolled me in Warriors kids’ camp. It was fun to me and I switched sports.”
But Toscano-Anderson wasn’t exactly a natural in the beginning. Twice he considered quitting the game because he “didn’t see a future in it.”
Between his sophomore and junior years at Castro Valley, Toscano-Anderson blossomed into his 6-foot-6 frame and he began dominating the Bay Area prep scene, averaging 16.6 points per game his senior year.
“He always came back to Castro Valley in the fall better,” Jones said. “Which I liked and appreciated.”
Jones’ (now coaching at Monte Vista HS) phone was ringing off the hook with calls from nearly every college coach in the country, but Toscano-Anderson decided to play for Buzz Williams at Marquette University.
He averaged 8.3 points per game his senior season for the Golden Eagles, and didn’t even attempt to prepare for the NBA draft.
Instead he headed south to play professionally in Mexico, and in the process he tapped into his heritage.
“I met some of my distant relatives,” he said.
Toscano-Anderson refers to himself as the face of basketball in Mexico, and sometimes yearns for that big fish-little pond feeling he had with Fuerza Regia in Monterrey.
“That was before I started playing in the NBA,” he said of notoriety in Mexico. “I can only image what it’s like now.”
Some have called him the Steph Curry of Mexico. But to become Curry’s teammate? That seemed improbable not long ago.
He landed on the Warriors radar in the fall of 2018 in an open tryout for the Warriors G-League team in Santa Cruz.
“I just kept grinding,” he said.
Toscano-Anderson probably wouldn’t be here if the Warriors didn’t fall apart in the offseason, but he’s now guaranteed a roster spot until the end of the year and is the only current player in the league of Mexican descent.
He’s one of about 20 players to hail from the Bay Area to then later play for the hometown team. The last was Vallejo’s Demarcus Nelson. He lasted 13 games with the Dubs, Toscano-Anderson wants a few more.
“I don’t want to be one of those guys that’s just happy to be here,” he said. “I want to be a vital part of the success of the team.”