By LARRY VAUGHT
Derek Anderson played a key role in helping Kentucky win the 1996 national championship and played in the NBA from 1997-2008 after being a first round pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Anderson is in his first year as an assistant coach for Tim Haworth at Louisville Male High School.
If Anderson had not hurt his knee midway of his senior season when he was averaging about 17 points per game , most Kentucky fans remain convinced that UK would have won the national title that year, too. He had 674 points in 55 career games at UK along with 199 rebounds, 155 steals and 98 assists.
“Fans ask about 1997 more than anything. Wherever I go, that’s what people want to know and tell me they wished I had played in ’97. Twenty years later, and that’s still the first comment I hear. They like the dunk I had at Louisville and say you should have played in ’97. Same comments. Never change,” Anderson said.
During his NBA career that included all-rookie honors as well as being part of Miami’s 2006 championship team, he averaged 12 points, 3.4 assists and 3.2 assists per game. He scored 7,357 points.
Anderson, a 1997 UK graduate with a degree in pharmacy, says he makes sure his players know about his NBA career.
“They Google me (on the internet) and send me pictures and stuff. Most of them have heard of me but obviously have never seen me play live,” he smiles and said. “But they have now. I go out there with them. I still eat good, don’t drink or nothing. Keep the same habits so I can stay in great shape.”
He was willing to help coach at Male because several players on his AAU team play for Male.
“I am wanting to get a head coaching job, but this is just something I wanted to do to give my kids a head start. Maybe I will be a head coach in a few years,” Anderson, who says he stays “connected” with his former UK teammates, said. “I just love teaching kids the game. It’s awesome. You are teaching them to think the game, play hard. That’s lacking now. So many kids just can’t think and they are missing the game.”