Former player says Kim Anderson would be 'no-brainer' as new MU coach

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04/28/2014 3:56 PM

05/16/2014 1:19 PM

Former Missouri assistant coach Kim Anderson reportedly is a finalist for the vacant Tigers men’s basketball job.

ESPN’s Andy Katz reported Monday that Anderson, who led the University of Central Missouri to the NCAA Division II title last month, is “a strong candidate” to replace Frank Haith, who accepted the head men’s basketball job at Tulsa last week.

Anderson, who played for Norm Stewart in the 1970s and later served 11 seasons during two stints on his staff, issued a statement Monday through Central Missouri.

“I am the coach of the Mules,” said Anderson, whose team had dinner at Gov. Jay Nixon’s house to celebrate the program’s fourth national title and first since 1984.

“At this time, I will have no comment on any other jobs.”

While Anderson chose to remain mum, several Missouri basketball alumni who played with or for Anderson, including Raytown South graduate Jevon Crudup, hope he lands the job.

“First of all, he’s a Missouri guy — a Missouri alum, a Missouri All-America,” said Crudup, who played for the Tigers from 1991-94 and remains No. 15 on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,445 points.

“To me, it’s a no-brainer.”

Crudup said Missouri basketball has lost its aura and that it’s “in a bad state right now,” but that Anderson could restore the program’s luster.

“First and foremost, he’s a good man and he’s a good person,” Crudup said. “When you’re selecting coaches, you have to look at what kind of person they are first. He’s a good man. He’s firm, but he’s fair.”

Crudup said he believes Anderson should have been Stewart’s successor in 1999.

Now, 15 years later, Crudup said, “He’s still the right guy. He’s always been the right guy for Missouri.”

Bill Flamank, who was a senior at Missouri when Anderson was a sophomore agreed.

“He’s been a winner his whole life,” Flamank said.

Flamank understands that Anderson wouldn’t be a splashy hire and that fans may rankle as a result. He also didn’t think most fans had any basis for such a judgment.

“I don’t think they’ve ever seen him coach or been to a (Central Missouri) game,” Flamank said. “I am biased, obviously, but I think he’d be the best hire.”

Anderson, who was selected as the Division II national coach of the year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, has been with the Mules for 12 seasons. He is 274-95 overall with three consecutive 30-win seasons.

“There are other guys who could have some success too, but look at the last two coaches,” Flamank said. “They’ve used Mizzou as a stepping stone. Kim is more committed to the state and the program.”

Anderson has led Central Missouri to the NCAA Division II semifinals three times and reached the national tournament seven times in the last 10 seasons, going 17-6 during postseason play.

The Mules have won six MIAA regular-season titles, four MIAA Tournament titles and are the conference’s winningest program in the last decade, including an MIAA-best 152-55 mark in conference play.

Anderson, a Sedalia native who turns 59 next month, served on Norm Stewart’s staff at Missouri from 1982-85 as a graduate assistant and from 1991-99 as a full-time assistant coach. He also was an assistant coach at Baylor under Gene Iba from 1985-1991.

He also spent three years, from 1999-2002, as the director of basketball operations and then as an assistant commissioner for the Big 12 in charge of basketball.

Anderson starred for Stewart at Missouri from 1973-77, helping the team to a Big Eight championship in 1976. He was the conference’s player of the year as a senior when he averaged 18.3 points and 7.9 rebounds.

For his career, he averaged 14.0 and 7.3 rebounds in 92 games and ranks 24th all-time with 1,289 career points.

During his tenure as a Tigers’ assistant coach, Anderson was part of two Big Eight regular-season championships (1983, 1994), the 1993 Big Eight Tournament title and six NCAA Tournament teams.

He is a member of the MU Athletics Hall of Fame and Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.

The 6-foot-7 Anderson was drafted by Portland in the second round of the 1977 NBA Draft. He averaged 3.0 points and 2.1 rebounds 21 games with the Trailblazers in 1978-79 and also played professionally in France and Italy.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.

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