Package deal

When Mike Anderson agreed to be the coach at Missouri, he brought an unexpected gift to a Columbia high school: his daughter Yvonne, the
Alabama player of the year.
Sunday, April 2, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:45 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

When Missouri hired Mike Anderson as its new men’s basketball coach, Athletic Director Mike Alden beamed that it was a “great day” for the university. That day, March 26, could also turn out to be a memorable date for the girls’ basketball program at either Hickman or Rock Bridge.

Along with a resumé that includes 89 wins, three NCAA tournament appearances and one trip to the Sweet 16, Anderson is also bringing his 16-year-old daughter Yvonne with him to Columbia. This season, as a sophomore point guard at Hoover High School in Hoover, Ala., Yvonne Anderson averaged 16.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists to lead Hoover to a 29-5 record. On Thursday, the 5-foot-7 Yvonne Anderson was named the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 6A Player of the Year.

“She’s an incredible player. If she wasn’t so team-oriented she probably could have averaged 35 points per game,” said Ron Ingram, a Birmingham News sports reporter who has covered high school sports in Alabama for the past 30 years. “Yvonne is probably one of the three best point guards I’ve ever covered. In two more years I’d probably be saying she’s the best. Her recruitment will be a national recruitment.”

Her coach at Hoover, Jill Elgin, agreed, saying she is one of the top-five point guards in the country.

“She is a complete player that affects the game on both offense and defense,” Elgin said. “Her basketball knowledge is far beyond a typical high schooler’s. She plays the game like a coach’s very smart daughter. Her intelligence helps her get to balls (on defense) that few players can. She has her hands on so many of the other teams’ passes. And it doesn’t hurt that she has very long arms. She is a great distributor of the ball and knows how to get her teammates involved. She hates to lose.”

In a conversation on Tuesday, Elgin explained to Mike Anderson how difficult it was going to be to lose his daughter. Elgin said Mike Anderson, as a fellow coach, understood the difficulty of losing her best player, but that Mike Anderson, the father, wanted his daughter near him.

Elgin understood the Andersons’ decision to bring their daughter with them to Columbia, but hasn’t taken it well.

“It’s been a pretty devastating week,” Elgin said. “It’s hard to lose a player like that. It’s also tough to lose a person like her. In the last two years, we’ve developed a real close relationship.”

After her father was hired away from UAB, Yvonne Anderson said she tried to persuade her parents to let her stay at Hoover, but she eventually relented. Anderson said she has heard good things about her new home.

“It sounds like it is a nice community. Everyone says it’s nice,” Yvonne Anderson said. “I really love Hoover. I love playing basketball there, I love my friends, I love going to classes there.

“I figured I’d graduate from Hoover, but I don’t want to be too far away from my parents.”

Where Anderson will be graduating from is still in question. Elgin said the Andersons are leaning toward sending Yvonne to Hickman. According to Fred Binggelli, the MSHSAA assistant executive director, Yvonne Anderson probably will not have any difficulty with her eligibility.

“It’s hard to say whether she will have any problems without knowing the details, but in most cases there aren’t any problems,” Binggelli said. “And I’m sure that her parents are pretty much on top of protocol.”

Hickman athletic director Doug Mirts said he couldn’t confirm that Yvonne Anderson will be a Kewpie next season.

“All I’ve heard are rumors,” Mirts said. “I don’t know her. I haven’t seen her. I don’t know anything about her. There isn’t a lot to comment on.”

Rock Bridge girls’ basketball coach Jill Nagel also didn’t have much to offer about Yvonne Anderson.

“I don’t know anything about her,” Nagel said. “I really can’t comment on her.”

Mirts said that when any student transfers to Hickman, the school tries to make the adjustment as smooth as possible. According to Anderson and those who know her, that shouldn’t be a problem. Elgin said teammates loved that Anderson, who has a 4.1 GPA on a four-point scale, has an “outgoing, yet reserved” personality.

“She’s a great kid, she’ll do fine,” Elgin said.

“I’m going to miss Hoover, but I’ll get used to my new school,” Yvonne Anderson said. “I’ll adjust pretty quickly.”

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