By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Chris Anderson has been around some quality Shelby County basketball for nearly a decade.
Among some of the talented players he’s coached and worked with are Leron Black, Chris Chiozza, Anton Beard and his son CJ Anderson.
Now the elder Anderson is ready to influence and groom basketball players at Tipton-Rosemark Academy. The man who played college football at Tennessee Tech said he was blessed with three sons who were skinny and tall. Coach Anderson gravitated to hoops guiding CJ to a stellar prep career including a trip to State with the Arlington Tigers. Now CJ plays at UMass.
The younger Anderson brothers Alex and Andrew are enrolled at TRA and will add to a solid roster inherited by Anderson.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have some good kids come through my programs,” Anderson said. “It will be a tenacious defensive team. Any team I’ve had, that’s my signature. Defense first and then be very aggressive with the ball going back on the offensive end. I don’t limit kids by their skill sets. If it’s your strength, I will emphasize it.”
Since Anderson emphasizes defense, he will build a foundation with his athletic guards Carter Weakley and Andrew Anderson. Weakley will be senior guard and bring a scoring boost along with improved defense.
Coach Anderson compares junior guard Andrew to two of his all-time favorite Memphis Tigers guards Andre Turner and Chris Garner. He expects him to be a floor general, push the ball up the court and get his teammates involved.
The younger Andersen Alex is a 6’6 wing player who could play the one-, two- or three-positions. The Middle Tennessee State commitment will be counted on for a contribution on both ends of the floor.
In addition to the freshmen, Anderson said other Rebels to watch out for are Tysen Banks, Ryan Knight, Parker Evans and Cameron Collier. Most of those Rebels will be coming off the gridiron this month with TRA reaching the Division II-A playoffs.
“I think these kids based on the relationships they have on and off the court, it will be a quick gelling process once the football players get their underneath them and back into basketball shape,” Anderson said. “Once they get out here, about two weeks a so, they’ll have their legs back. About mid-December will be a tough team other teams will have to contend with.”
Anderson said there will be a brief period of the coach getting to know the players and vice versa.
“In regards to my attention to details, allowing kids to be who they are, I am a players’ type of coach,” he noted. “Although I am tough on them, I’m not a hard coach. I think these kids will benefit from a guy who is open-minded from an offensive skill set as long as they’re playing hard defense.
“We’re going to put multiple guys on the court,” Anderson added. “It won’t be a 6 or 7 man rotation. It will be a 10 to 12 man rotation. It will be like Craigmont when they won the State championship.”
The closest TRA came to winning a State championship in basketball was 10 years ago. The team led by Jacob Arnett and Todd Starks loss in overtime to Harding Academy in the 2008 title game. That banner hangs in the TRA Gymnasium.
Anderson’s players look at that picture on the wall and inspiration. But the veteran coach knows it takes more than talent to earn a spot in history.
“You always want to say that as a coach,” he said about winning State. “But you have to contend with teams like Lausanne and Harding that have already done it the last couple of years. They have kids in the program who have been a part of that and were successful.
“We have to overcome that,” Anderson concluded. “We have to build a mindset in here of winning. It more than just winning on Friday nights and Tuesday nights. It’s got to be about winning in the preparation everyday. We have to get that first.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.