Kentucky basketball: Derek Anderson passionate to coach UK, fix mess NOW

Guard Derek Anderson of the Kentucky Wildcats ( Credit: Doug Pensinger /Allsport)
Guard Derek Anderson of the Kentucky Wildcats ( Credit: Doug Pensinger /Allsport) /

Former Kentucky basketball star Derek Anderson would be a slam dunk coach and inspiration

The Kentucky basketball season has been a hot mess, to say the least, but former UK star Derek Anderson‘s passion and love for the Wildcats has never been in doubt. Now he wants to lend his talents to help them find the fire he has as a coach.

Anderson took to Twitter to throw his name out there and expressed his desire to come aboard on the sideline of Rupp Arena once again.

"“My passion for the University of Kentucky is because I realize what it did for me, my family, & my community. So my passion is why I want to join the staff NOW! I want to help these players develop in every way! I’m here (because) I care!”"

The star player out of Louisville Doss High school took the court for the Wildcats in an era where true blue-blooded Kentucky fans adored those who wore the blue and white jerseys. Today they come and go so fast fans know very little about them much less fall in love with them. And seldom do they come from Kentucky.

However, out of high school, he went to Ohio State to play from 1992-94 before transferring to Kentucky in 1994 and played through 1997.

Fans cheered for him and cried with him when he tore his ACL that ended his Wildcat career.

But he rehabbed and ultimately was drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft with the 13th pick by Cleveland. He played 11 seasons and earned another title with the Miami Heat in 2006.

That championship Kentucky team no one will forget as they were affectionately known as “The Untouchables”.

Coached by Rick Pitino they rang up a 34-2 record and won the NCAA Championship over Syracuse.

That team eventually had nine players make the NBA. These players besides Anderson included Tony DelkWalter McCartyRon MercerNazr MohammedMark PopeJeff SheppardWayne Turner, and Antoine Walker.  They are arguably one of the greatest teams in NCAA basketball history.

Derek Anderson with the slam and shimmy on Indiana (1996)

Posted by KY Clips on Friday, April 3, 2020

John Calipari needs to find this allegiance to Kentucky by those born and bred or having played in the Bluegrass so they can inspire others to understand the depth at which Big Blue Nation is molded upon.

Look at Sheppard whose son Reed now plays for North Laurel and his mom was an all-star for the women’s team. However, dad has not been a fan of the one-and-done style that Calipari employs. Should Calipari let this legacy slip away it will be a sad day across the Commonwealth?

This past season Kenny Payne headed to the NBA to coach the New York Knicks. That seemed to send a dagger into the coaching staff. So instead of looking to Wildcat ties Calipari instead brought in Jai Lucas and Bruiser Flint. Neither have ties to the program or state.

Payne despite playing for rival Louisville knew what the name Kentucky meant.

Anderson does as well.

In 2019 he was inducted into the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame which acknowledges coaches,  athletes, and sports figures who are Kentucky natives or individuals who made a significant impact in their sport in Kentucky.

Check and check.

That class also included former Kentucky radio play by play announcer Ralph Hacker.

Maybe this is the answer to the frustration Kentucky fans have endured this year.

My guess is they would gladly welcome Anderson to the staff if Calipari agreed.

He has the pedigree, the experience but more importantly the love for his state and alma mater.

This past December Anderson took advantage of Kentucky’s Post-Eligibility Program and graduated with his degree from UK.

Calipari is always discussing what all his players have to go through. No one endured more than Anderson, a young boy who was homeless at age 11, was stabbed, had a child at 14, and raised him working two jobs yet still got his high school diploma and earned a scholarship to Ohio State.

He even authored a book called “Stamina”  about surviving his unbelievable childhood to where he and his Derek Anderson Works foundation are today. He titled it Stamina “because everyone has come to a point of giving up or in a situation right before we were able to win in life.”

It appears many on this current 2020-21 roster, coaches and fans as well are at this point. Maybe reading his book and offering Anderson a coaching role is just what this team needs.