During Final Four weekend in Houston, The Shadow League went behind the scenes for some conversations with some big names in the college basketball tapestry. In this installment, we bring you New York City and Georgia Tech legend Kenny Anderson.
Kenny could very well be best freshman point guard in the history of the college game. While Michigan State’s Magic Johnson, LSU’s Chris Jackson and Indiana’s Isiah Thomas are in the debate, none of them led their teams to the Final Four like Anderson did as a precocious, first-year floor general in 1990.
The left-handed ballhandling wizard averaged 20.6 points, 8.1 assists and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 51.5% from the field, including 41% from beyond the 3-point stripe as the head of the snake for the legendary “Lethal Weapon 3” offensive attack.
Kenny hopped in my Buick Enclave for a ride around H-Town and shared some of his thoughts and insights on what made him so successful and the goosebumps he gets every year when the NCAA Tournament rolls around.
Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more installments from our latest series, The Shadow League’s Championship Drive from the 2016 Final Four.
Some knew him as “Kenny Ice” back when he was growing up in South Jamaica, Queens, the name that was bequeathed to him when he was tearing up the youth basketball scene throughout New York’s five boroughs. Others called him “Kenny The Kid” or “Ken-Do!” His nickname around his neighborhood was “Chibbs.”
Regardless of what you called him, he was undeniably New York City’s most revered and celebrated prep star since the incomparable Kareem Abdul Jabbar was known as Lew Alcindor at Power Memorial. Already a certified legend on the playgrounds before reaching puberty, college scouts began flocking to his games in the sixth grade.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
I’d seen the blossoming phenom at its early stages, before he took the college basketball world by storm. Some of my favorite memories were at the Daily News Golden Hoops Tournament at Columbia University, watching him play with the Riverside Church Hawks along with the late, great Malik Sealy, Adrian “Red” Autrey and Brian Reese.
The first NYC player since Kareem to be named a three-time Parade All-American and All-City for four years, watching him back then was like witnessing the basketball equivalent of a young Mozart. He ran a delicious, superb floor game while handing out more assists than welfare. In possession of extraordinary quickness, night-goggle vision, remarkable poise, he had an advanced understanding of the game’s geometry and a mid-range pull-up and assist game that most pros would have sold their souls for.
Kenny set the all-time record for scoring in New York state, with 2,621 points, despite not being allowed to enter his varsity games as a freshman at Archbishop Molloy until after the first quarter. His high school coach Jack Curran never allowed freshmen, no matter how talented, to start. Coming out of high school, he was the #1 ranked player in the country, ahead of Shaquille O’Neal.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
If one snapshot can encapsulate his preternatural genius, it would have to be when he sprinted down the left wing to corral a loose ball against Duke. Handling at full speed, he slammed on the breaks just short of Blue Devils point guard Bobby Hurley’s solid defensive positioning, whipped the rock behind his back, through his legs, then behind his back again before squeezing off a scrumptious lefty leaner.
Even for long-time hoops connoisseurs, it was utterly astonishing.
We hope you enjoy this next installment of The Shadow League’s Championship Drive with Kenny Anderson. Stay tuned for more to come in the days and weeks ahead.