The NBA Draft was more than three hours old last Thursday night and Kyle Anderson was in a New York restaurant, still waiting to hear his name called.
The former St. Anthony High School All-American and UCLA standout tried to keep a positive approach.
“I thought I would end up somewhere between 15 and 20 in the first round,” Anderson said. “That’s where everyone said I would go. But I stayed patient and let the chips fall. I won’t say I was disappointed. I knew I’d get a good opportunity wherever I went. I wasn’t disappointed at all.”
North Bergen native Anderson said that he felt great for former UCLA teammates Zach LaVine and Jordan Adams who were taken before him. LaVine went to the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No. 13 pick of the first round and Adams went to the Memphis Grizzlies with the No. 22 pick.
“I was very happy for them,” Anderson said. “I just wanted to be picked in the first round.”
As the first round was coming to a close, the reigning NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs were set to make their selection to finish the first round.
Sure enough, the Spurs took the 6-foot-9 versatile performer, making Anderson’s dream of becoming a professional basketball player come true.
“I’m happy to be with a great team,” Anderson said. “I was put in a great position. I’m very happy.”
With that, Anderson became the sixth St. Anthony product to get selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, joining David Rivers, Bobby Hurley, Terry Dehere, Rodrick Rhodes and Roshown McLeod.
Ahmad Nivins and Tyshawn Taylor are former Friars who were once selected in the second round.
It couldn’t have worked out better for Anderson, getting selected by a team with a legendary coach in Gregg Popovich, a team that features a lot of ball movement and crisp passing, aspects that play right into Anderson’s strengths as a player.
“I couldn’t be happier, going to a team with great players and great camaraderie,” Anderson said. “You see the players on the bench and they’re into it, supporting each other. I like that. Since I think passing is my best skill, the Spurs are a team made of their passing. I’m in a great position. I can’t say that enough. I’m very happy with where I ended up.”
Anderson will now head to Las Vegas to play with the Spurs in the NBA Summer League beginning July 11 at UNLV.
“I’ve had some pretty good times in Las Vegas,” said Anderson, who won the Most Valuable Player of the Pac-12 Tournament last March. “I want to continue that now.”
Anderson’s selection in the NBA Draft caps a nine-year-old odyssey when his father, Kyle, Sr. first realized that his son had pro potential.
“I thought far back as when he was 11 years old, that as long as he kept the interest in the game, he could be a pro,” said the elder Anderson, who was the head coach at Ferris and an assistant coach at St. Peter’s University in the past. “He stayed on course and probably did a lot of things that he didn’t want to do. But it’s pretty incredible that he made it to where he wanted to be.”
The elder Anderson was also happy with the way the NBA Draft turned out.
“When he went so late in the draft, I was first hurt and disappointed,” the elder Anderson said. “But before the draft, I prayed to the Lord and asked Him to put Kyle with a coach that will use him properly. When I realized he was going to the Spurs and Coach Popovich, I realized that my prayers had been answered. It just took a few days for it to sink in.”
“I’ve played for some great coaches in my life, like a Hall of Fame Coach [Bob] Hurley at St. Anthony,” said Anderson, a two-time Hudson Reporter Player of the Year during his days with the Friars. “I also played for Coach [Steve] Alford and now I’m fortunate enough to play for the best coach in the NBA.”
Kyle, Sr. was asked to fathom the idea that his little boy was headed to the NBA.
“It’s pretty amazing to believe that I have a son in the NBA,” the elder Anderson said. “I’m extremely proud. My father [Cliff Anderson] played in the NFL, so I’m glad that we’re able to keep that tradition.”
In fact, Kyle Anderson, Sr. was named after former New York Giants grid legend Kyle Rote, when Cliff Anderson and Kyle Rote were teammates with the Giants. Cliff Anderson played for the old Chicago Cardinals and the Giants during his NFL career.
“I was named after Kyle Rote,” the elder Anderson said. “That’s how close they were. There were seven Giants who named their sons Kyle right around that time.”
The younger Anderson was pleased that his long-time goal had finally become a reality.
“This is something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little boy,” the younger Anderson said. “I wanted to do whatever I could to become a pro athlete. Now, I’m really looking forward to becoming a part of the Spurs organization. It all worked out well for me.” – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.
To read Hague’s column on Anderson written eight years ago, log on to: SCOREBOARD