COLUMBIA — As a teenager growing up in the Kansas City suburbs, Jon Sundvold used to watch Missouri basketball games on television and marvel at the way Kim Anderson, the Tigers' undersized center, dominated taller opponents.
The 6-foot-7 Anderson had a knack for snatching rebounds and finishing around the rim against paint-patrolling giants. That quality amazed Sundvold, who would later star for the Tigers as an All-American shooting guard. He is now a color analyst on the Missouri Sports Network.
In 1982, Sundvold — then playing for Missouri — watched Anderson return from a five-year professional career to be a graduate assistant with the Norm Stewart-led program.
Now, Sundvold will get the chance to watch Anderson stalk the sidelines as the 18th coach in Missouri history. The 58-year-old was officially announced Monday afternoon as Frank Haith's successor. Anderson is the Tigers' fourth coach since Stewart retired in 1999.
"I don't think the transition is that hard," Sundvold said. "The thing I think he brings of the four hires since Norm is he's maybe the best X's and O's hire.
"He's tough and he's fair. One thing about him is that he has a way of getting the best out of players."
One of the Central Missouri players Anderson is leaving behind, junior guard Preston Brunz, agreed with Sundvold’s analysis.
“There have been times when we were in a complete dogfight, and maybe the ball didn’t bounce our way, but he would come up to you and be there for you,” Brunz said. “He’s not going to give up until the final buzzer goes off. He continues pushing, and us players saw that and wanted to keep fighting as well.”
Brunz first met Anderson when Anderson recruited Brunz’s older brother Bryce to UCM. Initially, Brunz liked Anderson’s passion for winning. Years later, the Mankato, Minn., native admires Anderson’s compassion for those around him even more.
“He cares for you like you’re one of his own; he cares for you more than just as basketball player, but as a person and for your goals you want to accomplish,” Brunz said. “Overall, he’s just a good person to be around.
Being around Anderson helped Brunz adjust to being more than 450 miles away from home while on campus. The two talked about Brunz’s family and his life outside of basketball, not just what was transpiring on the court.
“He’s been more than just a basketball coach for our family; he’s a family friend for life,” Brunz said.
Brunz believes Anderson's personality will attract recruits to Missouri. Sundvold called recruiting the key to Anderson's potential success.
"The level you coach at is not the most important part, but the athlete you recruit is," Sundvold said. "Kim Anderson is a terrific basketball coach. The key there is getting the high-level players to come to Missouri in order to succeed in the SEC. That’s the challenge, but Missouri has great talent in the state."
The Tigers have a pair of four-star 2014 commitments in JaKeenan Gant and Namon Wright, who already signed letters of intent. Both expressed uncertainty about their futures with Missouri in the aftermath of Haith's departure nearly two weeks ago.
Missouri's third recruit in the class of 2014, Kevin Punter, officially decommitted Monday, according to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch report. The State Fair Community College guard earned Junior College All-American honors last season.
Convincing all three to stay will be among Anderson's first order of business as the Tigers new coach.
"The players that play for Kim Anderson all want to be where he’s been," Sundvold said. "He was player-of-the-year in his conference and got paid to play professional basketball. I think he’s ready to go to a level where he can be successful."
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