JAMELL Anderson has revealed how starting his professional basketball career in Southend helped set him on his way to senior international recognition.

Anderson has been selected in the Great Britain squad for a series of warm up matches ahead of the forthcoming Eurobasket campaign in Slovenia.

But, it was with the Essex Pirates at Garon Park, that Anderson first burst on to the British Basketball League scene as a talented teenager.

And the now 23-year-old, who has enjoyed an outstanding season with the Leicester Riders, is certain being given an opportunity at such a young age was of huge benefit to his career.

“Pirates was a stage in my career which was needed and it was hugely beneficial to me developing as a person and as a player,” said Anderson.

“It was nice to know that playing at that age in the BBL was possible and I always had it in my mind that hard work pays off.

“Thankfully that has been the case for me but I’m still in touch with most of the players from there and I will always respect them for having my back when needed.”

Anderson combined playing for Pirates with studying at Essex University in Southend for two years.

But, since switching his degree to Loughborough and playing for the Riders, his career has taken giant strides forward.

Riders won three of the four trophies on offer last season.

And the forward is loving life with Leicester.

“Going from Essex to Leicester was an easy transition thanks to the Riders organisation,” said Anderson.

“They really looked after me and took me in as one of their own immediately.

“I love playing for this team as the fans, the staff, the players and the coaching staff is just brilliant and we had an unbelievable season.”

Anderson played a prominent part in the success and was duly rewarded by his first senior call up into the Great Britain squad.

His first taste of action could come against Puerto Rico at the Olympic Park’s Copper Box this Sunday.

And Anderson cannot wait to get on the court.

“I’m pleased to be have been given this opportunity and it’s a good feeling for me too,” said Anderson who has previously played for GB at under-20 and under-23 levels.

“I’m expecting great competition and with the games spread internationally over the coming weeks they will be good for me to learn from.

“It’s also a good chance to show what I’m made of. “ After the warm up matches, the size of Britain’s squad will be reduced for their Eurobasket campaign.

And Anderson is eager to make the cut.

“I’ve planned to get to where I am now and my plans are to keep going so making it to Eurobasket would again be another step in the right direction,” said Anderson.

“I’m confident I can continue to work hard and if that, along with good performances, will give me the chance to play then I will be very grateful. “ Anderson is also joined in the squad by his ex Pirates team-mate Myles Hesson who suffered a serious ankle injury during his one season in Southend.