By Joe Henricksen
Yes, the City/Suburban Hoops Report does have a thing for the nondescript player and sometimes it does get the feel of the Hoops Report being a personal public relations department for that player. Whether it’s Sean McGonagill of Riverside-Brookfield in the Class of 2010, Ryan Sawvell of Mundelein in the Class of 2011 or any other slow-to-rise in the eyes of others player, there is purpose and reason in getting those names out there. Well, here we go again.
A little over a year ago in this blog the Hoops Report began singing the praises of little-known Kyle Anderson of Newark and introduced the athletic 6-2 guard as a Division I prospect. He starred as a freshman at Newark and then led his high school to a supersectional as a sophomore. Anderson now is gaining the attention and opening eyes of college coaches, many of which are at a higher level than even the Hoops Report anticipated.
Anderson has had a flock of Division I schools come in to tiny Newark High School, located 20 miles southwest of Aurora with an enrollment of under 200 students. Basketball-wise, Newark is best known for producing Dave Olson, who led the state in scoring, averaging over 35 points a game in the 1987-88 season before signing with Eastern Illinois.
This past Wednesday night even Illinois coach Bruce Weber came to the tiny Newark gym (we’re talking just four rows of bleachers) to watch Anderson work out. Even a couple of Pac-10 schools have inquired. Huh? So is this a case of the mysterious small-town hero no one knows about developing into a Sid Finch-like character and following? Or is he the real deal?
While Illinois or other high-major programs are definitely a stretch for Anderson, he’s certainly a Division I player. While other players in the Class of 2011 get hyped playing for particular high-profile AAU programs — Anderson plays for Illinois Attack — the Newark product is gaining his notoriety at a slower pace. He visited Akron in September and came home with an offer. Evansville has stepped up with an offer, while Missouri State, Southern Illinois, Northern Iowa, Indiana State and Ball State have either come in to watch Anderson or will be in the gym in coming days.
Anderson, who helped lead Newark to 25 wins and to the Class 1A DeKalb Supersectional last March while averaging 18.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals a game as a sophomore, admits he’s not quite used to the attention he’s been receiving.
“It’s been a little crazy,” says Anderson of the recent interest. “I know I have to get better. I have to keep working on my ballhandling, get better as a shooter and more consistent with it.”
Anderson’s athleticism, body and frame for a perimeter player are what jumps out at you. He’s bouncy and is at his best finishing strong at the rim in the halfcourt and getting out in transition and opening eyes by finishing with a dunk or athletic play. While his shooting mechanics and shot are a bit inconsistent, he is more than capable of knocking down shots. He shot the ball well this past weekend at Larry Butler’s Fall Spot-Lite Showcase and has the ability to shoot both the mid-range pull-up and from beyond the three-point line. Anderson must improve his ballhandling ability, especially changing directions and with his ball security against pressure defense. The lack of competition he faces is going to be an obstacle in helping him get to a higher level and bringing out the best in his abilities, but the talent, size and athleticism are all there.