COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri chose a familiar face as its new men’s basketball coach Monday.
Kim Anderson is a former star player and longtime aide to former Missouri coach Norm Stewart. He won a Division II championship at Central Missouri this season and replaces Frank Haith, who left for Tulsa earlier this month. A news conference to introduce Anderson was set for Tuesday morning.
“He’s a man of great character, integrity and respect,” athletic director Mike Alden said. “The fact that he’s a Missouri Tiger at heart is important.”
The 58-year-old Anderson was the NABC national coach of the year this season after going 30-5, molding a roster that had just one returning player who averaged more than 4.7 points per game. He takes over a program that settled for the NIT this season after losing seven of its last eight to end the regular season, and with several key players likely not coming back.
Anderson compared the situation to the one he faced when he was hired at Central Missouri 12 years ago and “the program had lost its identity.”
“I see that same opportunity here at Missouri,” Anderson said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us and that work starts today, but as a Missourian I embrace this challenge and look forward to bringing championship basketball back to Norm Stewart Court and Mizzou Arena.”
Former UCLA coach Ben Howland also had been believed to be a finalist for the job to replace Haith, who departed after three seasons.
Anderson’s top priority will be persuading two prominent recruits, JaKeenan Gant and Namon Wright, to stay put. The 6-foot-8 Gant was Georgia’s Mr. Basketball after averaging 21 points and 10.5. rebounds, and the 6-foot-4 Wright was one of the top players in California, averaging 24.2 points, 9.4 rebounds. 3.0 assists and 1.4 steals.
Guard Kevin Punter, a standout JUCO player at State Fair Community College, also has the option to transfer without sitting out a season due to the coaching change.
The top returning scorer is freshman forward Johnathan Williams III, who averaged 5.8 points. The other returning starter, sophomore forward Ryan Rosburg, averaged 4.8 points and 4.1 rebounds.
The hire was announced not long after the school’s board of curators met for about 1½ hours. School Chancellor Bowen Loftin said Anderson was a “tremendous teacher” with a track record of success and integrity.
Anderson interviewed for the Missouri job in 1999 but the school chose Quin Snyder. Stints by Mike Anderson and Haith followed before he got his shot.
The Tigers were 23-12 last season, lost in the second round of the NIT and might need to replace three starters. Juniors Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson have declared for the NBA draft and Earnest Ross was a senior. Louisville transfer Zach Price was kicked off the team after a pair of arrests.
Anderson was 274-94 at Central Missouri, a .743 winning percentage, and is among the top 10 in career winning percentage in Division II. He had the first three 30-win seasons in school history, won six Mid-American Intercollege Athletics Association titles and went to three Division II Final Fours.
Anderson was a graduate assistant at Missouri from 1982-85 and was Stewart’s top assistant from 1991-99. Anderson helped Missouri win the Big Eight in 1976 and was conference player of the year in 1977, averaging 18.3 points and 7.9 rebounds as a senior. He was a second round NBA draft pick of the Portland Trailblazers and played briefly in the NBA, along with professional stints in Italy and France.
Anderson was inducted into the University of Missouri Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in Springfield in 2005 as a player, and in 2012 as a coach. In 2006, he was named to Missouri’s all-century team in a fan vote.
One of Anderson’s two sons, Brett, will graduate from Missouri next month.