COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri chose a familiar face as its new men’s basketball coach Monday.
Kim Anderson is a former star player and longtime aide to former Missouri coach Norm Stewart. He won a Division II championship at Central Missouri this season and replaces Frank Haith, who left for Tulsa earlier this month. A news conference to introduce Anderson was set for Tuesday morning.
“He’s a man of great character, integrity and respect,” athletic director Mike Alden said. “The fact that he’s a Missouri Tiger at heart is important.”
The 58-year-old Anderson was the NABC national coach of the year this season after going 30-5, molding a roster that had just one returning player who averaged more than 4.7 points per game. He takes over a program that settled for the NIT this season after losing seven of its last eight to end the regular season, and with several key players likely not coming back.
Anderson compared the situation to the one he faced when he was hired at Central Missouri 12 years ago and “the program had lost its identity.”
“I see that same opportunity here at Missouri,” Anderson said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us and that work starts today, but as a Missourian I embrace this challenge and look forward to bringing championship basketball back to Norm Stewart Court and Mizzou Arena.”
Former UCLA coach Ben Howland also had been believed to be a finalist for the job to replace Haith, who departed after three seasons.
Anderson’s top priority will be persuading two prominent recruits, JaKeenan Gant and Namon Wright, to stay put. The 6-foot-8 Gant was Georgia’s Mr. Basketball after averaging 21 points and 10.5. rebounds, and the 6-foot-4 Wright was one of the top players in California, averaging 24.2 points, 9.4 rebounds. 3.0 assists and 1.4 steals.
Guard Kevin Punter, a standout JUCO player at State Fair Community College, also has the option to transfer without sitting out a season due to the coaching change.
The top returning scorer is freshman forward Johnathan Williams III, who averaged 5.8 points. The other returning starter, sophomore forward Ryan Rosburg, averaged 4.8 points and 4.1 rebounds.
The hire was announced not long after the school’s board of curators met for about 1