23 Dwight Anderson

Dwight Anderson
Hometown (Last School)
Dayton, OH (Roth)
1978-79, 1979-80
December 28, 1960

Transferred to Southern California halfway through Sophomore Season

Obituary – Dwight Anderson’s Basketball Career Ended Decades Ago, but the Legend Lives On, Dayton (OH) Daily News (September 6, 2020) by Lawrence Budd

Dwight Anderson’s Basketball Career Ended Decades Ago, but the Legend Lives On

by Lawrence Budd, Dayton Daily News

In 1991, Anderson was at the first scrimmage of the Dayton Wings World Basketball League team

“Dwight Anderson caught a pass just beyond the time line and went streaking up the left side of the McLin basketball court at Wright State Tuesday afternoon during the Dayton Wings’ first pre-season scrimmage ever,” said the DDN coverage.

“Anderson put a spin move on Paul Wilson from Bradley U. that sent Wilson sprawling. He gave Albert Springs from Utah a head fake that left Springs hanging in midair. Then Anderson completed his scoring journey with a left handed layup.”

“The 6-foot-3 former Roth high school, University of Kentucky and U. of Southern California star passed, scored and rebounded at will and with a silky style all his own in a scrimmage held to give Wings Coach Pat Haley an indication of who can play for him and who can’t.”

Anderson said the last team he had played for was called the Shell Oilers, in the Philippines.

“The last time I played like this, in competition, was three years ago,” Anderson said in a quiet, thoughtful way after the Wings scrimmage. He made the team but was waived during the season.

“The mantle and wall had been turned into a shrine of sporting superiority. One quick study told you it held little of the typical trophy fare. One framed photograph showed Dwight dunking in the face of 6-foot-9 Orlando Woolridge, then a Notre Dame star, now a Denver Nugget,” Tom Archdeacon wrote in the DDN.

“Near that stood the Most Valuable Player trophy he won over the likes of future pros Ralph Sampson and Sam Bowie at a Georgia all-star camp. Hanging on the wall – with Dwight next to Detroit Piston Mark Aguirre – was a team photo of a McDonald’s high school All-America team.”

“On the basketball court, any court – from Resurrection Parish and old Roth High School through college to the pros – Anderson’s capabilities nearly gave him carte blanche. Many consider him the greatest basketball product Dayton produced. He led Roth to the state championship in 1975-76 as a sophomore, averaged 38 points and 14 rebounds a game as a senior and was named a Parade All-American. Recruited by nearly every major college in the nation … Anderson eventually was lured to the University of Kentucky.”

“After two standout seasons at USC, he quit school at the end of his senior season and set his sights on the 1982 NBA draft.

“Anderson was not chosen until the second round by the Washington Bullets. Cut before camp was complete, he began a basketball odyssey that bounced him to five other NBA teams, three teams in the Continental Basketball Association and two summers in the Philippines.”

“Although Anderson led the CBA in scoring six seasons ago, he never made a successfully jump to the NBA.”

In 2004, Mark Baker, who led Dunbar High to the state championship and The Ohio State University Buckeyes to two Big Ten titles and three trips to the NCAA Tournament, called Anderson “the greatest basketball player this city produced.”

In 2005, nephew Mark Anderson, who starred on the court at Dunbar, recalled for Archdeacon his uncle’s role in him learning to play basketball.

“I learned how to play basketball in the backyard of my grandma’s house on Westwood,” Mark said. “Dwight nailed a rim on a tree back there and that’s where I started, too. The court was just sand, gravel and rocks. I always wanted to be good, so I’d go out there all the time. And when I was little, Dwight would shoot there with me sometimes. He taught me a little bit back then.”

“He needed just two shots to dial in his range and then: Swish … swish … swish … swish … swish,” Archdeacon wrote in the DDN.

“ÔHow many guys 49 years old are gonna do that?’ Cliff Pierce, an Anderson benefactor and former high-school rival, gushed incredulously. ‘How many NBA guys could do it on any court? Much less these conditions?'”

“So much for ghosts. This was like the time Anderson, then playing for the University of Southern California, was the MVP of the Aloha Classic in Honolulu after hitting 26-of-33 field-goal attempts. It was a reminder of his senior year at Roth High when he averaged 38 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists a game, was a Parade All-American and the No. 1 college prospect in the nation.”

“ÔHe’s still our G.O.A.T.,’ said Pierce, using the Greatest Of All Time acronym. ‘In other cities that’s up for debate, but not here. Not by those who … know.'”

Former Miami RedHawks coach Charlie Coles: ‘Once-in-a-lifetime talent’

“Dwight’s physical gifts Ñ his flair for the game Ñ he was a once-in-a-lifetime talent. All those guys we’re watching in the pros now, Dwight was as good as all of them with the exception of LeBron (James). You notice I didn’t say (Dwyane) Wade or Kobe (Bryant)? And the only reason I said LeBron is because he’s taller,” Coles once said of Anderson.

Former Dayton Flyers coach Don Donoher, who recruited Anderson: ‘Oh my God, Dwight was good’

“He was like a sprinter on a basketball court. His ability to drive to the basket was like no one else. He could blow by anybody. They called him The Blur.”

Cliff Pierce learned that nickname firsthand

The summer before his sophomore year at Fairview High, Pierce had a teammate who was bused over from Anderson’s neighborhood.

“I kept hearing about this guy my age, so I decided to find out just who he was. I wasn’t driving age, so I got on my Huffy 10-speed and rode all the way from Philadelphia Drive to McCabe Park.”

“About 20 minutes later, here comes Dwight. Then some other guys showed up and we played a game and I realized everything I’d heard was true … The more I went against him, the more I realized ÔI’m in a bad, bad place.'”

John Paxson, Alter High and Notre Dame star and 12-year NBA veteran: ‘When he left, they all knew Dwight Anderson’

“I remember a few of us going down to the big B/C All-Stars Camp in Milledgeville, Ga.” Paxson once told the Dayton Daily News. “Going down there, Dwight wasn’t as known a quantity as some of the guys. But that changed instantly. He totally dominated that camp. And that was against guys like Isiah (Thomas), Dominique (Wilkins), Ralph Sampson and Sam Bowie.”

“He walked away with every award possible. When he left, they all knew Dwight Anderson.”

John’s father, Jim Paxson, himself a basketball standout, remembered more.

“Father Harry Gerdes used to be the pastor there and he had a 6 a.m. Mass every day. He’d sleep in the summer with the window open, but whenever there was enough moon to light the court, he’d hear that ball bouncing and finally he’d have to yell: ÔDwight, go home. I gotta sleep. I’ve got an early Mass.'”

His USC coach, Stan Morrison, called it “the greatest shot ever made.” They were playing Washington at the L.A. Sports Arena. The Trojans’ James McDonald, later of the L.A. Rams, rifled an over-long fast-break pass that was heading across the baseline out of bounds when Anderson, in full sprint, snagged it, turned while in midair and hoisted a shot from behind the backboard that arched perfectly and snapped the cords.

“I remember 15,000 people out their chairs, laughing and partying after that,” Anderson recalled. Jim Paxson said Al McGuire was broadcasting the game: “I remember him saying, ÔAnd a star is born.’ ” [JPS note: This was said by McGuire after Dwight’s game versus Notre Dame while with Kentucky.]

Vincent Sanford, father of former University of Dayton player Vee Sanford, recalled Anderson

“I was maybe 12 when I met Dwight Anderson. Between those summer league games, the rest of us (little) kids couldn’t wait to get out there and shoot around and I was messin’ around with Dwight. I was telling him about our local hero Dirk Minniefield and I asked him, ÔCan you play?’ He said, ÔYeah, I can play. Just watch me young fella.'”

“Then he went out there and I couldn’t believe it. He was Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan ever came around. I never forgot that day and I told Vee about him.”

In 2015, sportswriter and filmmaker Branson Wright, debuted the documentary, ‘The Blur: The Dwight Anderson Story’

Wright asked Sedric Toney, the former Wilbur Wright High and University of Dayton star, who had played five years in the NBA, about Anderson.

“He says to me ÔWas he that good? OK, come with me!'” Wright once told the Dayton Daily News. “In that room were Mark Aguirre, Isiah Thomas and Dominique Wilkins. He took me up to each guy and said, ÔTell him about Dwight.’ Well, they all just raved.”

Thomas called Anderson the Michael Jordan of his time.

“All that kind of took it over the top for me,” Wright said. “I knew I had to get on that project I’d been thinking about.”